Congressman Comer Describes 'Massive Impact' of Virginia Train Crash

Jan 31, 2018

Credit Comer.House.gov

Congressman James Comer of Kentucky's 1st District says he is 'ok' after a chartered train carrying dozens of GOP lawmakers to a retreat in West Virginia struck a garbage truck in Virginia. 

Comer tweeted that most of the members are also okay but said there are serious injuries.

In an interview with WKMS, Comer said he feels 'blessed' that he is okay. He said there was a 'massive impact' about two hours into the train ride and that the train came to a complete stop.

"I looked out the window and I could see what appeared to be a garbage truck rolling on the ground. The train came to a complete stop so you could imagine the jarring effect it had." 

Comer said the crash threw everyone from their seats. He was in the back of the train where the impact wasn't as bad as those in the first train car. 

Some of the members of Congress and their families near the front of the train suffered some injuries, he said, but nothing above possible concussions or broken bones. 

"When I regained by balance, I looked out the window and I could see two bodies on the ground. So I knew that there were going to be some serious injuries," he said.

He said Capitol Police asked members of Congress who are doctors to assist with injuries. Comer said the doctors tried to do CPR on both victims. He said one did not make it and another was sent away by Air Evac, "but the outlook did not look very promising for him," Comer said. He said there were two in the truck and they were both ejected from the vehicle.

Comer said he was on the train with around 100 Republican members of Congress of the House and Senate. Heading to a retreat in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, to plan the Republican agenda.

He said other members of Kentucky's delegation are okay, but noted he didn't see Rep. Brett Guthrie. WKU Public Radio reports Guthrie was not on the train. Comer said his family is driving separately from Monroe County and weren't on the train.

He said other transportation methods will need to be arranged as the front of the train is smashed up. He expected another train will come and hook to the back of the train. "There's a lot of security on the train right now," he added.

The crash is in a remote location, he said, with a few houses in the distance. He said he didn't know why the truck was on the track.

The Associated Press reports that Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said there are no reported injuries to passengers or crew members after the incident that happened around 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia. Crozet is about 15 miles west of Charlottesville. She said local law enforcement is investigating and crews are inspecting equipment for damage.

The White House confirmed one fatality and one serious injury. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says there are no serious injuries among members of Congress or congressional staff. She said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the matter and is receiving updates.

This story has been updated and may be further updated.

This story has been updated to correct that the incident occurred in Virginia, not West Virginia.