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Latest: Train traveling near speed limit at time of crash

February 1, 2018

CROZET, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the crash of a train carrying Republican members of Congress (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

An investigator says an Amtrak train was traveling around the speed limit only seconds before it slammed into a trash truck at a rural rail crossing in Virginia.

National Transportation Safety Board lead investigator Pete Kotowski said at a news conference Thursday that the maximum speed at the crossing is 60 mph (97 kph) and the train was traveling “about 61” mph (98 kph).

The train was taking members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia when it collided with the truck Wednesday morning in Crozet. One man on the truck was killed. Six people were injured.

Kotowski says investigators have interviewed one of the crew members from the Amtrak train and have scheduled an interview with the engineer. He says they are “in the process” of trying to interview the driver of the truck.

Kotowski says the trash company, Time Disposal, has been in business for 33 years. He says the company has been subject to six roadside safety inspections with two resulting in vehicles being placed out of service.


said Thursday that the Amtrak train was traveling about 60 miles per hour only seconds before it slammed into a trash truck at a rural rail crossing in Crozet.

The data was recovered through the trailing locomotive’s data recorder, Kotowski said. He said NTSB investigators successfully downloaded and captured the data that was recorded at the time of the collision.

“The data indicated that the train was traveling about 61 mph when the throttle transitioned from full throttle to idle,” he said. “One second later, the locomotive’s pneumatic control switch went from closed to open indicating that the transition that the train was in idle. The train came to rest approximately 20 seconds after the throttle went to idle.”

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the maximum speed given the grade of the crossing is 60 mph.


5 p.m.

Maryland’s Republican congressman is calling for a county teachers union president to resign after a social media post in which he joked about a train collision in Virginia involving GOP members of Congress.

The Baltimore Sun reports Harford County Education Association President Ryan Burbey on Wednesday shared a story on Facebook about the collision with the comment, “Karma.”

The train struck a garbage truck, killing one person on the truck.

In a statement, Rep. Andy Harris calls Burbey’s post “toxic, blindly partisan rhetoric.” Harris says Burbey should resign and apologize.

The Sun reports Burbey issued a statement saying he wasn’t aware anyone was hurt when he made the post. He has replaced it with an apology describing his remark as “insensitive.”

He says he won’t resign.


12:15 p.m.

Drivers who regularly pass over a Virginia railroad crossing where a train carrying Republican lawmakers slammed into a garbage truck say the crossing arms appeared to be malfunctioning the day before the deadly crash.

Jane Rogers told The Associated Press on Thursday that she crosses the intersection almost every day. She says she got stuck there Tuesday because the arms were lowered even though no train was coming.

Crozet resident Gene Locke told AP he had the same problem Tuesday.

A 28-year-old passenger on the truck was killed Wednesday, and at least two other people in the truck were reported seriously hurt. No serious injuries were reported aboard the chartered Amtrak train.

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors chairwoman Ann Mallek says she has not had anyone reach out to her in 10 years about the crossing. But she says it’s tricky to drive across because the road crosses the track at an incline and visibility is poor.


11:20 a.m.

The man who was killed when a train carrying Republican congressmen struck a garbage truck in rural Virginia was the father of a 1-year-old boy and was well-liked by his co-workers and customers.

Christopher Foley was an employee of Time Disposal. He was killed Wednesday when an Amtrak train taking the GOP lawmakers to a retreat in West Virginia slammed into the trash truck in Crozet, Virginia.

Foley’s co-workers called him “a friend and a brother.” By late Thursday morning, a GoFundMe page set up by co-workers to help Foley’s family listed more than $7,000 in contributions, some from people who said the 28-year-old Foley collected their trash.

Roger Lehr is an 82-year-old retired professor. He says Foley and his co-workers had picked up his trash about an hour before the crash. He said Foley always rode on the back of the truck. He said the crew did a great job and would sometimes run up his driveway to get his trash if he had forgotten to put it out in time.

Of the six people injured in the crash, four people have been discharged from UVA Medical Center, one patient remains in critical condition and another is in fair condition.


11 p.m.

Republican members of Congress with medical experience put their skills to work after a train carrying dozens of them crashed into a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing one person in the truck and injuring others.

The lawmakers were on their way to a strategy retreat in the countryside when the collision occurred about 11:20 a.m. Wednesday in Crozet, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of Washington.

No serious injuries were reported aboard the chartered Amtrak train, which set out from the nation’s capital with lawmakers, family members and staff for the luxury Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. At least two other people in the truck were reported seriously hurt.

Update hourly