'Let's Pray': Republicans Responded with Faith and Rushed to Help Wounded after Their Train Crashed
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An Amtrak train transporting dozens of members of Congress and staff to a Republican retreat in West Virginia struck a truck in Crozet, Virginia, Wednesday morning.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says there is one confirmed fatality and one serious injury; however, there are no serious injuries among members of Congress or their staff. According to lawmakers, the fatality appeared to be someone who was in the truck.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected by this incident," Sanders said in a statement.
A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said Wednesday evening investigators will spend several days at the crash site and doesn't expect the agency to release a probable cause of the deadly crash for several months.
Members went to the Greenbrier Hotel as scheduled to discuss their agenda and the upcoming midterm elections.
We are moving. Back to Charlottesville where we will transfer to buses. Please keep praying for the truck driver’s loved ones and other’s injured. pic.twitter.com/yBULqkYbBB— Rep. Mark Walker (@RepMarkWalker) January 31, 2018
Vice President Mike Pence comforted the politicians and their families during his address as a featured speaker at the retreat.
"I know it's been a harrowing day for all of you that were involved in today's train accident. I was in the Oval Office with the president when we were informed of what had occurred. And frankly for me, and I know for the president we were both deeply troubled," Pence said.
He encouraged the audience to put their trust in God.
"Have faith in Him," Pence said. "I truly believe that His hand of protection around you and your families today, that He will yet Bless America if we do all that we can to ensure in our time that this nation remains one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., wrote on Twitter that several lawmakers rushed to provide medical aid to the wounded: "We're fine, but our train hit a garbage truck. Members with medical training are assisting the drivers of the truck."
Among the doctor-lawmakers who provided medical assistance were Reps. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, Michael Burgess of Texas, Phil Roe of Tennessee, Larry Bucshon of Indiana, Roger Marshall of Kansas and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
Former pastor, Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., told CBN News, “We were on the train... We had been en route for a couple of hours, so a number of us were standing and just kind of stretching our legs when all of the sudden there’s just a tremendous impact. Several members fell… No one was seriously hurt on the train, thank goodness, just minor injuries, but we had hit a dump truck. It was obvious from the immediate impact that we had struck a vehicle.”
Rep. Hice recalled, "Immediately there was smoke that was coming through primarily on the outside as the train was trying to stop. Many members actually still saw the truck spinning on the ground. Right away, there was just the awareness we had had a serious accident, and there was going to be some injuries."
"I know Ted Budd, representative from North Carolina - he and I made contact quickly after the accident and almost simultaneously said to one another, 'Let’s pray,' " he continued. "Immediately we just pulled aside and did so right away, we just started praying for those who were involved. We were very much aware that something very serious had happened and some lives were very likely hanging in the balance.”
President Donald Trump has been fully briefed on the situation and is receiving updates.
Members chartered the train to take them from Union Station in Washington, D.C. to the White Sulphur Springs train station in West Virginia which is just steps away from the hotel.
The Greenbrier Hotel is owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who recently switched his party affiliation to join the Republican Party.
The hotel has a long history with the federal government. During the Cold War a secret bunker was built under a wing of the hotel to house Congress in the case of a nuclear attack.
The secret chamber includes chambers for both the House and Senate along with living space for members.
It was declassified in the early 1990s after a Washington Post story revealed the secret. Today hotel guests can tour the bunker.
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