Brad Wenstrup rushed to the aid of train-truck crash victims

Ohio lawmaker assists medical personnel
Train carrying GOP lawmakers hits truck
Posted at 12:57 PM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 20:21:18-05

WASHINGTON (AP) — A chartered train carrying dozens of GOP lawmakers to a Republican policy retreat in West Virginia struck a garbage truck in a rural Virginia town on Wednesday. The White House said one person was killed, and local officials said others were injured.

Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Steve Chabot and Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, Sen. Todd Young of Indiana and Rep. Thomas Massie, Rep. James Comer and Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky were among the passengers.

The Washington Post reported Wenstrup and other doctor-lawmakers helped medical personnel carry one of the injured people to an ambulance. Wenstrup, a doctor by trade, also jumped in to help after a shooting at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, last summer. 

"It felt like we went over a boulder," Wenstrup told WCPO. 

Wenstrup said he tended to a man who was unconscious and bleeding around the face. He made sure the man's airways were clear until an ambulance arrived and local first responders drove him to a hospital.

Others tended to the other injured people. Wenstrup estimated lawmakers performed CPR on the man who died for 15-20 minutes. 

"We're praying for the one man's soul and for the other man that survived," Wenstrup said. 

Massie told the Post the crash was "loud and surprising."

"Some minor bumps and bruises in this car," Massie told the Post. "We saw debris go by the left side of the train. The part of the truck we can see was decimated. Very relieved when the train came to a stop and still on the tracks."

Lawmakers said the fatality appeared to be someone who was in the truck. One lawmaker who was aboard the train, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said the vehicle had been ripped in half and said he saw a person wrapped in tarp and said emergency workers appeared to be “putting a body away.”

Cole said he felt “a tremendous jolt” when the accident occurred, nearly two hours after the train left Washington headed to the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Amtrak spokeswoman Beth Toll said two crew members and two passengers were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries after the incident, which happened about 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) west of Charlottesville.

Alex Prevost, a University of Virginia health system spokesman, said it had received three patients and two more were on the way. He could not confirm a fatality.

Albemarle County police spokeswoman Madeline Curott also would not confirm a fatality but said three people on the truck were seriously injured.

Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis’ staff members tweeted that the first-term congressman was among those taken to the hospital. The tweet from Lewis’ account said he was being checked for a concussion because of the impact.

The policy retreat, an annual event, is scheduled to last three days and feature speeches from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. By early afternoon, lawmakers were boarding buses to resume their trip and Pence was still planning to address them later Wednesday.

Cole said the train stopped quickly after impact. He said several GOP lawmakers who are doctors got off the train to assist, including Wenstrup. 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 partially derailed.

AP reporter Adam Beam in Frankfort, Kentucky, contributed.