The train carrying tourists from several states, some as far away as California, were riding the Cheat Mountain Salamander. The train departed out of Elkins and was traveling to the High Falls of the Cheat and Cheat Mountain.
"A train owned by the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad was traveling southwest crossing U.S. Route 250 at the Cheat Bridge. A loaded log truck was traveling North on U.S. Route 250, and struck two passenger cars in the southbound lane of the train," said Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady.
The log truck was owned by H&H Fisher LLC of Pocahontas County. Two of the trains' passenger cars were flipped over on their side, and received extensive damage.
The log truck's driver died at the scene. His name hasn't been released yet, Brady said.
The railroad crossing signals were flashing at the scene, according to Brady.
"At this junction of the investigation, it appears the log truck had run through the crossing signals and struck the passenger cars of the train. No braking was observed at the scene or noted," Brady said.
Officials credit the quick response by numerous first responders getting to the scene and acting quickly. Emergency services from several counties were sent to the scene.
"The governor asked me to commend everyone for the hard work that they did today,"said Jimmy Gianato of West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "What happened here today just shows how important the training and exercises that are done both in the hospitals and in the field are to be able to handle events like this. He wanted me to make sure that everyone understood how proud he was of the response to this incident."
U.S. Route 250 will remain closed until officials can clear the scene. Officials said it could reopen sometime Saturday morning.