NTSB releases preliminary report on Virginia train crash involving Congress members

CROZET, Va. – A train carrying dozens of Republican members of Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, to their legislative retreat in West Virginia hit a truck on January 31, 2017 leaving one person dead.

Wednesday the National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary investigation into the crash.

They said around 11:15 a.m., a 2018 Freightliner truck equipped with a McNeilus Truck & Manufacturing refuse body was traveling southbound on Lanetown Road in Albemarle County near Crozet, Virginia.

The refuse truck, operated by Time Disposal LLC, had a 30-year-old driver and two passengers as it drove towards a highway–railroad grade crossing, later identified. The crossing is active and includes advance warning signs and pavement markings on its approach, the National Transportation Safety Board said. The crossing is also equipped with crossbuck signs, warning lights, bells and gates.

As the truck neared the highway a westbound Congressional Special Amtrak train was approaching the highway–railroad grade crossing.

The NTSB said the train’s lead locomotive was equipped with a forward-facing track image camera. Data that was taken from the camera showed that as the crossing came into view, the gates were down and the truck was on the grade crossing. Witnesses to the crash reported that the refuse truck entered the crossing after the gates were down.

The train’s recorder showed the Amtrak train was traveling about 61 mph when the engineer applied emergency braking. The train struck the left rear of the refuse truck, causing the truck to rotate counterclockwise and then collide with a railroad signal next to the tracks. The refuse body separated from the truck, and the truck’s two passengers were ejected, according to the NTSB.

As a result of the crash, one passenger in the truck died. The other truck passenger had serious injuries and the driver of the truck had minor injuries. Three Amtrak crewmembers and three train passengers sustained minor injuries, the NTSB said.

NTSB investigators and Albemarle County Police Department officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation documented the crash scene and the characteristics of the crossing, the train and the refuse truck. The track and operational characteristics of the crossing signals were also examined and documented.

The crash remains under investigation.