Congressman Steve Russell Recounts West Virginia Railway Crash - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

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Congressman Steve Russell Recounts West Virginia Railway Crash

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Oklahoma Congressman Steve Russell was among other Republicans making their way to West Virginia for a retreat when the train hit a garbage truck.

“There was a loud bang. It was startling. Everyone was like 'what was that?' As the train began to slow we very quickly realized we hit something,” Rep. Russell said Thursday. 

The train was heading to a Republican party retreat following the State of the Union address when it collided with a garbage truck carrying six people. The driver of the truck was killed. 

Russell said security on board acted quickly, rushing to both secure the scene and aid the wounded. In all, the train was carrying 200 Republican members of Congress, including four Oklahomans, and some congressional staffers. Oklahoma Congressmen Tom Cole, Frank Lucas and Sen. James Lankford were also on the train.

“The warrior in me, I had a lot of different things race through my mind like what have we struck, what is the result of this? Then, I began to look for window exits and back exits and trying to examine the terrain outside. Just habits as a soldier,”  the retired Army Lt. Colonel said.

No major injuries were reported by passengers although Russell said one person may have broken an ankle and another possibly suffered a concussion. 

Outside the train, congressional doctors and congressional members with medical training worked to aid those in the garbage truck. Russell said their quick actions helped to save a man’s life.

“The docs that are members of Congress got to where they were able to intubate him and try to stabilize him with the limited resources they had but their training was critical to saving his life.”

On Thursday morning, Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told members of Congress the crossing arms were operating at the time of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating how the truck ended up in the path of the train. 

Russell praised the efforts of the conductor who was able to slow the train without derailing the cars after the crash. He also asked for prayers for the train’s crew, the families of the victims and the community around the crash.

The members of Congress were able to board buses and make their way to the GOP retreat several hours after the crash. 

Since President Donald Trump took office, there have been a handful of incidents on American railways, something Russell said he hoped the crash will prompted the Senate to approve Trump nominee Ron Batory to be the Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator.

Batory, a veteran of the railway industry has been waiting for nearly seven months for a confirmation from the Senate.

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