Three South Carolina congressmen have confirmed they were on board an Amtrak train that crashed into a garbage truck stranded on the tracks in Virginia on Wednesday.
The collision killed a person in the truck and injured six others, according to the Washington Post. Dozens of Republicans in the House and Senate — including South Carolina’s U.S. Reps. Ralph Norman, Tom Rice and Joe Wilson — were on their way to a retreat in West Virginia.
Norman said the crash occurred suddenly and members had been milling about the train car when it happened. “My wife and I were sitting there at the time,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “And then (California U.S. Rep.) Paul Cook came flying across and we caught him. He fell into my lap.”
The South Carolina congressman said he had been sitting towards the front of the train, but he and others ran to the back. After a struggle, several doctors among the passengers were able to get a door open and hurried to help those injured in the truck.
“Two people were on the ground and one was standing up, dazed,” Norman said. “One was standing up, dazed. They immediately called for anybody that had a medical background to get off the train and help. Three or four did and tried to resuscitate the two on the ground. One of them, they went ahead and put the sheet on him because he had died.”
He said U.S. Reps Paul Gosar of Arizona, Brad Wenstrup of Ohio and Brian Babin of Texas were among those who helped the injured truck passengers.
None of the members of Congress were seriously injured (although one briefly went to the hospital for a concussion). However, Norman said he’s fortunate it was not worse. “The front train — the one that hit the truck — had gone off the track,” he said. “Had we gone much further, we would have come off the tracks and it would’ve been a 20-foot ravine we would’ve fallen into.”
Norman said the experience showed him how fragile life can be. “Keep the families of the truck drivers in your prayers, it was a tragic day for them,” he said. “It shows you how one mistake can lead to tragic outcomes. Prayers are what these families need.”