CROZET, Va. – New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7th, was uninjured in the crash of an Amtrak train on its way to a GOP retreat in West Virginia Wednesday, one day after President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
Lance tweeted his spokesman, John Byers, immediately following the collision that involved a garbage truck stuck on the rail line.
The message from Lance reads:
“The train carrying lawmakers to our retreat had a collision west of Charlottesville, VA. I was not hurt. Capitol Police and first responders are helping to secure the scene.”
Lance also tweeted photos of the crumpled front end of the train and the truck on its side alongside the tracks; the impact spilled the contents of the garbage truck.
The link to Lance’s tweet: https://twitter.com/RepLanceNJ7/status/958752312222257152
The driver of the truck was killed, according to several reports.
“We spoke quickly and briefly. It was kind of chaotic there,” Byers said.
The chartered Amtrak train had left Union Station in Washington Wednesday morning en route to the retreat in West Virginia. The train collided with a truck around 11:30 a.m., according to Byers.
Minor injuries were reported on the train, with some lawmakers complaining of whiplash; some were thrown from their seats.
One of Lance’s colleagues, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., told reporters he did not feel the train brake before the impact.
"Local law enforcement is investigating the incident and crews are inspecting the equipment for damage," Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said.
Onboard the Amtrak train were Republican members of both the Senate and the House, en route to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia for the traditional post-State of the Union retreat. Vice President Pence was going to meet and speak with the lawmakers Wednesday night, and Trump was expected to visit Thursday.
Most of the lawmakers were transferred to buses for the remainder of the trip to West Virginia.
The retreat is held for lawmakers to plan their agenda for the upcoming year; Democratic members of Congress are expected to meet next week, according to Byers.
Lance, whose district encompasses more than 75 towns in Central New Jersey, including 17 of 21 municipalities in Somerset County, released the following statement on Trump’s State of the Union address after the speech Tuesday night:
“I was pleased both sides of the aisle stood and applauded when the President said the state of our union is strong. I agree with the President that we are all one team and one people. In that spirit in the past year our Nation responded to terrible natural disasters. The federal response, the generosity of the American people and the first responders the President highlighted in his address contributed to the saving of many lives.
“I also stood and applauded the President’s call for a major infrastructure package – legislation that is critically important to New Jersey, improvements to our veterans’ services, boosting American-made energy and the flood of new life-saving drugs and medical devices coming to market.
“Our country faces many difficult challenges in the coming weeks. We must finally pass an immigration plan that boosts security at our southern border, updates our immigration laws and gives DACA recipients a pathway to legalization.
“There is a compromise to be had and I will continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to find an agreement that can be signed into law. I commend the President for extending an olive branch with an offer to protect 1.8 million DACA recipients coupled with immigration reforms and I urge lawmakers across the aisle to come to the negotiating table.
“Finally, we must also extend any bipartisan collaboration to the defense of the United States. The world remains a dangerous place and we must stand united against Russia, China, North Korea, ISIS and other bad actors that work against the U.S.”