01.31.18

Great Falls Tribune: Daines, Gianforte OK after train wreck in Virginia

Montana Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte said Wednesday they were not injured when a chartered train carrying dozens of GOP lawmakers to a Republican retreat in West Virginia struck a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing one.

Lawmakers said the fatality appeared to be someone who was on the truck. Another person who was not on the train was reported to be critically injured.

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods told the Associated Press there were no reported injuries to passengers or crew members after the incident, which happened around 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia. Crozet is about 15 miles west of Charlottesville.

“On the train and okay. Prayers for the drivers of the truck,” Daines tweeted.

Later, Daines told The Tribune that "Physically we are all fine, it is pretty somber knowing there is a loss of life and another man critically injured." 

Daines said he was sitting toward the back of the train and sipping a Diet Coke when he heard a loud bang, felt a jolt and the cup flew from his hand. People standing in the aisle were flown to the floor.

He said he could see the wreckage of the garbage truck. The chassis had separated from the garbage compartment, which flew about 40-50 yards.

Daines said several members of the House and Senate who have medical training were the first responders to the wreck, leaving the train to aid the people in the truck. He said they worked among down power lines and fuel leaking from the vehicle.

Among them was Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, a combat surgeon who aided Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. in June when he was shot during a Republican baseball practice in Virginia, Daines said.

Scalise said the tourniquet applied by Wenstrup at the time saved his life.

Gianforte said he and his wife Susan were working on their laptops when the crash occurred.

He also said that people standing in the aisle fell to the floor.

Gianforte said there were a few bumps and bruises on the train, but it did not appear that anyone on the train was seriously injured.

"Clearly it was not something you'd expect," he said. 

Gianforte said he and his wife were fine.

"I’m thankful for everyone’s prayers, for those who were worried," he said.

The train was en route to the Greenbrier resort in White Sulfur Springs for a three-day issues retreat featuring appearances by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Daines said the GOP event would continue to be held and that lawmakers would make the final 100 miles by bus.


By:  Phil Drake