Rep. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina said he was standing at the train's refreshment stand, waiting to be served a soft drink, when he felt "an enormous slam".
"I'm an engineer so I know when you feel something that's got as much mass as a train, anything you hit that causes you to feel it on the train, you know it's a pretty significant collision", he said. Separately, a congressman on the train told CNN most of the staff and members on the train are OK.
"It is premature to offer specific comment about this incident, however, it is clear that accidents at rail crossings nationwide are far too common", the carrier said.
At least 300 people, including lawmakers, their families and staff, were aboard the train from Washington bound for a Republican policy retreat in West Virginia.
"Two Amtrak crew members and three passengers were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries", train officials said.
Jason Lewis the Republican from Minnesota was taken to the hospital for a potential concussion.
Flake, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, joined medical personnel in carrying one of the injured passengers to an ambulance.
They "literally pried open the doors and jumped off the train to assist those injured", said Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia.
"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. Sometimes, he said, they stayed down for hours.
The National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the crash site at 4:40 p.m. and began its investigation.
Rep. John Faso, a New York Republican, who was on the train that crashed, said he was able to see the truck that hit the train, and that he was told that injuries were expected from people in the truck, not train.
Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said he provided emergency care for the truck crewman who died. Lawmakers were taken to Charlottesville, Va., where they boarded buses to the retreat. "The train originated in Washington, D.C. Updates will be provided as new information becomes available", the statement said. "Our prayers are with the other accident victims who are fighting to recover from their injuries".
Pence was the featured speaker Wednesday night at the GOP retreat.
"They were very insistent", Cole said. He said he is praying for everyone involved and that he is grateful for the swift action of first responders. The retreat starts Wednesday and is scheduled to end on Friday.
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