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Minnesota’s Rep. Jason Lewis screened for concussion after train crash

January 31, 2018 GMT

WASHINGTON Three Minnesota congressmen were aboard a chartered train that struck a truck Wednesday, and Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis is on his way to the hospital to be screened for a possible concussion, staffers said.

The crash reportedly killed the driver of the truck and badly injured another vehicle occupant. It also shook up members of the Republican caucus, their spouses and staffers on their way to a policy retreat in West Virginia.

The impact threw the train passengers against seats and windows and knocked some in the aisles off their feet.

Im fine compared to, tragically, the truck drivers, and thankful for the prompt action of our doctors and first responders, Lewis said in a message passed along by his office.

The collision at a rural Virginia crossing threw the 200 or so passengers against seats and windows and knocked those walking the aisles off their feet. Rep. Erik Paulsen looked out the window and saw the twisted wreckage.

It was a garbage truck that was completely cut in half with serious injuries, Paulsen said in a phone call from the accident site Wednesday afternoon. He ran to find one of the doctors among his colleagues and told him: You need to get outside right away.

Outside, he said, the first responders including several members of Congress found that the collision had killed one person in the truck and left another seriously injured.

I went outside and delivered water to one gentleman who witnessed the whole thing. He was pretty shaken up so I just consoled him for a little while, Paulsen said. Its pretty emotional. Everyones pretty choked up.

The shaken members of the Minnesota delegation rushed to check in with people back home.

Rep. Tom Emmer, who was traveling to the retreat with his wife, tweeted: Jacquie and I are both aboard the train. We are both OK. Thank you to those who have reached out. Praying for all.

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods says 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. The accident occurred at about 11:15 a.m. EST, nearly two hours after it left Washington headed to the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The policy retreat, an annual event, is scheduled to last three days and feature speeches from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Several GOP lawmakers who are doctors got off the train to assist, Paulsen said, including Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, who was also at last Junes shooting of Republicans at a baseball practice in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, and treated some of the victims.

Other doctor-lawmakers who helped included Reps. Michael Burgess, of Texas, Phil Roe of Tennessee, Larry Bucshon of Indiana, Roger Marshall of Kansas and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

Cassidy later tweeted that there were three people on the truck and one is dead.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was on the train and was unhurt, aides said.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump was briefed on the accident.

There is one confirmed fatality and one serious injury, but no injuries to lawmakers or their staffs, she said.

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected by this incident, Sanders said.

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said about 100 Republican lawmakers were on the train when the crash occurred, which made him jump out of his seat.

I looked out the side of the window and then I could see a truck, just in pieces out the side of the window, Comer said. It was a garbage truck that was apparently, I would assume, trying to cross the tracks.

Comer said Capitol Police quickly jumped off the train, but came back and asked for any doctors to help. Comer said U.S. Reps. and Brad Wenstrup all medical doctors rushed to help, including performing CPR on one person.

A GOP aide said the train seemed partly derailed.

It was not clear when lawmakers would resume their trip to their retreat. Paulsen said many were prepared to continue with the policy retreat by bus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Jennifer Brooks 202-662-7452