NTSB: Truck driver had marijuana, prescription drug in his system at time of GOP train crash

The driver of a refuse truck that was hit last year by an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to a GOP retreat in West Virginia was impaired by a combination of marijuana and a prescription drug, likely causing the collision, authorities said in a preliminary report issued this month.

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One person, identified as a passenger in the Time Disposal truck, died in the crash on Jan. 31, 2018, while several others were injured. The truck's driver, Dana Naylor Jr., 30, was indicted last year by a grand jury on charges of involuntary manslaughter and maiming another while driving under the influence, The Washington Post reported. Last month, a jury found Naylor not guilty of involuntary manslaughter, according to the newspaper.

Explore>> 1 killed when train carrying GOP lawmakers strikes garbage truck

In a preliminary report issued this month, officials with the National Transportation Safety Board said Naylor, who had been employed as a driver with Time Disposal since October 2010, had traces of marijuana and gabapentin in his blood hours after the accident. Gabapentin is an antiseizure medication also used to treat chronic pain, officials said.

At the time of the crash, “It is likely that (the driver) was impaired due to the combined effects of THC and gabapentin,” NTSB investigators said.

Explore>> Read the preliminary report from the NTSB

Authorities said that although the train’s engineer had sounded the horn several times and although warning lights were flashing, the Time Disposal refuse truck was already headed for the tracks by the time the railroad crossing became visible to the engineer. Witnesses told authorities the truck entered the crossing after the gates had already gone down.

When it became clear to the train’s engineer that the truck was not leaving the tracks, the engineer said he applied the locomotive’s emergency brake. However, the train was moving around 60 mph and was not able to slow in time to avoid a collision.

Explore>> Read the NTSSB’s Highway Accident Brief

The train hit the left rear of the garbage truck at 35 mph, causing it to spin and hit a railroad signal next to the tracks.

Authorities said none of the people inside the truck were wearing seat belts at the time of the collision and two people inside the truck were thrown out. One of the truck’s passengers died and the other passenger suffered serious injuries. The truck’s driver suffered minor injuries.

Officials said three Amtrak crew members and three train passengers also suffered minor injuries in the crash.

Authorities continue to investigate, although The Associated Press noted that their findings might have little impact on Naylor. The NTSB "does not have any enforcement authority," a spokesman for the agency told the AP.

“There is no legal action that can be taken by the board,” NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said.

Naylor continues to face civil suits brought by people who were on the Amtrak train at the time of the crash, the AP reported.

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