Trial Begins in Case of Truck Driver Struck by Amtrak Train that Carried GOP Congressmen in January 2018

A Virginia court began hearing evidence on Monday in the trial of a truck driver charged in connection with a Jan. 31, 2018, crash involving a chartered Amtrak taking Republican members of Congress to a political retreat in West Virginia.

Dana William Naylor Jr., the driver of the truck, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and maiming while driving under the influence in connection with the incident that left one passenger in the truck dead and another seriously injured.

Prosecutors said in court that Naylor drove the truck around downed crossing gates on tracks operated by the Buckingham Branch Railroad near Crozet.

Albemarle County assistant commonwealth’s attorney Juan L. Vega said in his opening statement that Naylor was impaired by THC, typically derived from marijuana, at the time of the collision.

Vega said that after the collision Naylor told EMTs called to the scene that he had tried to beat the train and that “his life was over.”

Defense attorney William Tanner countered that the crash was a “horrible tragedy,” but that Naylor had not tried to drive around the crossing gates.

Rather, Tanner said, the crossing gates came down on the truck as it passed over the crossing and that Naylor panicked when he was unable to drive around the gate on the other side of the crossing.

Tanner contended that video evidence of the collision will support that argument and that Naylor’s conduct was not a crime.

During Monday’s proceedings, three witnesses testified about Naylor’s behavior at the scene of the collision after it occurred.

EMT Emma Freeauf said she treated Naylor who repeatedly asked about the condition of his coworkers.

She also testified that Naylor said he “tried to beat the train” and that the collision “was all his fault.”

Nayor and the two other men in the truck, which was hauling garbage, were all employees of the same company.

No one aboard the chartered Amtrak train, which was following the route used by Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal, were injured.

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