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U.S. Rep. Brian Mast reiterates concern with Brightline expansion following GOP train crash

Posted at 7:09 PM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-01 06:05:36-05

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast tweeted Wednesday afternoon to let people know he and his family were not hurt following a deadly train crash in Virginia.

He asked for prayers for the families of those in the garbage truck hit by the Amtrak train, but also reiterated his safety concerns for Brightline's expansion to the Treasure Coast. 

GOP lawmakers on board the Amtrak train departed from Washington, D.C. Wednesday morning and were heading to the GOP retreat in West Virginia. The train hit a truck at an at-grade crossing outside of Charlottesville after 11 a.m. 

"We stood up to go get a snack and made it through one car, then all of a sudden you felt it. Immediately you could tell we hit something. It definitely threw us to the left and right," said Mast.

"There was garbage strewn all over the place. The truck was damaged, the front of the train was badly damaged. It was clearly a very impactful hit," said Mast's Communications Director Brad Stewart.

Mast was on board the train with his 5- and 7-year-old sons. After making sure they were alright, he said Mast sprang into action.

"Brian was a bomb disposal expert in the Army for 12 years so when there's a sudden jolt, his mind automatically goes there and is trying to figure out 'what can I do to help,'" said Stewart. 

A few hours after the crash, Mast tweeted and asked for prayers for the families of those in truck and reiterate his safety concerns with high speed trains traveling through grade crossings, referring to his opposition to Brightline's expansion to the Treasure Coast. 

“There’s an instance in our area of every quarter to an half to one mile for something like this to happen with a rail that’s going faster than what this was going, and we’ve already seen unfortunately fatalities,” Mast said in an interview with WPTV on Wednesday night.

"If this train had been going 20, 30, 40 mph faster, we could have a very different result today," added Stewart. 

Mast tweeted, "My experience today has only strengthened my resolve to prevent Brightline from creating this dangerous situation in our community."

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the Amtrak crash.