While many news agencies and members of the public were discussing the State of the Union address by President Trump the evening before, shocking news disrupted the debate.
In the moments following the breaking news, there were expressions of disbelief, claims of conspiracy, concerns about terrorism, and some celebration.
Details began to emerge that Republican members of Congress, some spouses, and some staff had been on an Amtrak train headed for a scheduled legislative retreat in West Virginia. While en route, the train they were on hit a garbage truck that was on the track.
In the midst of all of that, some of the victims of the Amtrak train crash began using social media to report that they were okay. They also began to spread word about what was happening at the scene, which was quickly shared by the public and news agencies.
Just some advice, hold off on the jokes.
There are serious injuries involved in the collision with the train
Everyone onboard the GOP train seems fine but there may have been a fatality outside the train
Please know that members of Congress with medical experience also helped pic.twitter.com/GkpViGWixd
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) January 31, 2018
What was happening was remarkable. A number of the GOP members of Congress on that train were also doctors and rushed to aid in treating the injured, with some calling them heroes for their efforts.
According to Inside Edition, Rep. Roger Marshall of Kansas, told CBS News he was one of the volunteers. “By the time I got there, I looked outside, there were two patients lying down and obviously, one was in really bad shape, and the other was not in good shape. Dr. Phil Roe — [a] close, close friend, OB-GYN from Tennessee — was trying to get an airway out on the other person. [I] jumped over there, no pulse, no breathing — a bad situation — so we started CPR at that time.”
“Rep. Larry Bucshon, a cardiologist, his wife Dr. Kathryn Bucshon, an anesthesiologist, Rep. Michael Burgess, an OB-GYN, and several other doctors and servicemen” were among those who also gave aid to victims on the scene.
Marshall explained, “It was kind of like after a big surgery, we all ended up in the bathroom trying to get the blood off of ourselves and trying to get ourselves together.”
The Washington Post reported that “several lawmakers, including Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio),” helped carry one of the injured to a waiting ambulance.
For Flake, it was all “too reminiscent” of the shooting attack against GOP lawmakers in June 2017 that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise critically wounded and also saw GOP members of Congress rushing to give assistance.
The truck was reportedly carrying a driver and two passengers. One CBS News report wrote that while “there were no serious injuries among members of Congress or their staff,” some passengers and Amtrak train crew members did need to be taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Those in the truck took the brunt of the impact, the end result being one “serious injury” and “one fatality.”
Lawmaker on the train to the GOP retreat passes on this picture of the garbage truck that their train hit: pic.twitter.com/sYUmmdH60Q
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) January 31, 2018
Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Minnesota, and a staffer for House Speaker Paul Ryan both sustained head injuries and were examined at the hospital.
Lewis was released later with a concussion, reporting that he was “fine compared to, tragically, the truck drivers, and thankful for the prompt action of our doctors and first responders. My thoughts are with the family of the individual who passed away.”
Citing a statement from the Albemarle County Police Department, Inside Edition noted that the deceased was a Christopher Foley, 28, of Louisa County, Virginia, who had been a passenger in the truck. The driver was reported to be “in serious condition,” and the other truck passenger had sustained “critical injuries.”
According to The Washington Post, even though security team members had advised the lawmakers to remain on the train due to safety concerns, a number of them exited anyway in order to assist where they could.
Among those was Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, the House chaplain, who is reported to have not only assisted with the injured, but to have given last rites to the deceased man.
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