Miss. congressman among those in GOP retreat train accident

Emergency personnel work at the scene of a train crash involving a garbage truck in Crozet, Va., on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. An Amtrak passenger train carrying dozens of GOP lawmakers to a Republican retreat in West Virginia struck a garbage truck south of Charlottesville, Va. No lawmakers were believed injured. (Photo by Zack Wajsgrasu/The Daily Progress via AP)
Staff Writer

One person was killed on Wednesday morning when a chartered Amtrak train carrying dozens of Republican lawmakers hit a garbage truck in Crozet, Virginia.

U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, a Mississippi Republican whose district includes Starkville, was the only member of the Mississippi delegation for the U.S. House of Representatives on the train at the time of the incident.

The Amtrak train was on its way to the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, to take lawmakers and staff to a retreat.

Harper took to Twitter immediately after the incident to report he was safe and unharmed.

“Our train, in route to our Republican planning conference, hit a truck at a crossing in VA,” Harper said on Twitter. “Hopefully, there were no serious injuries on the train. Sidney and I are shaken but okay. Please pray for the 2 people in the truck and their families.”

The Starkville Daily News reached out to Harper’s office for comment, but spokesperson Emerson George said Harper did not want to comment on the incident on Wednesday out of respect to the fatality and injuries in the wreck.

Amtrak reported two crew members on the train and three passengers were taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

Among those with minor injuries was Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis, whose staff tweeted that the first-term congressman was taken to the hospital to be checked for a concussion.

U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, a Republican who represents Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District, released a statement saying “I was not involved in the train accident in Virginia this morning. Please take a moment to pray for those who were injured.”

Susan Parker, communication director for U.S. Rep Trent Kelly, a Republican who represents Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District, confirmed to the Starkville Daily News that the congressman was not on the train.

No details as to the cause of the wreck had been released by press deadline on Wednesday night.

According to the Associated Press, the trip will go on as scheduled for the lawmakers on the train, which will last three days and feature speeches from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

U.S. Rep. James Comer of Kentucky told the AP that roughly 100 GOP lawmakers were on the train at the time of the incident.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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