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Truck, train collide in W.Va.; 1 dead, 23 hurt

In this photo provided by the Pocahontas Times, crews work at the site where a truck carrying logs down Cheat Mountain on U.S. Route 250 crashed into the side of a train taking passengers on a scenic tour in rural Randolph County, W.Va., on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. The crash killed one person and injured more than 60 others, according to emergency services officials.
Geoff Hamill,AP Photo/The Pocahontas Times

Updated 10:39 PM ET

CHARLESTON, W.Va. Authorities say the driver of a loaded log truck that collided with a train carrying 63 passengers and four crewmembers on a West Virginia sightseeing trip is the lone fatality in an accident that hurt 23 others.

Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady said two of the train's passenger cars flipped on their sides after impact, the log truck was a "total loss" and its driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tracy Fath, a spokeswoman for Davis Memorial Hospital in Elkins, provided audio of Brady's joint news conference with hospital officials to The Associated Press.

She said six of the 23 injured were admitted to hospitals in serious condition and two in stable condition.

The cause of the accident between the truck and the Durbin & Greenbrier Railroad train on an excursion at the height of autumn leaf-watching season in the state's mountainous eastern region wasn't immediately known.

Two rail passenger cars overturned in the accident at 1:30 p.m. Friday along U.S. Route 250 about 160 miles east of Charleston at Cheat Mountain, said emergency services director Shawn Dunbrack of Pocahontas County.

News photographs showed first responders beside the highway aiding the injured, the scenic route threading woods splashed with brilliant red and yellow foliage. Emergency vehicles lined the shoulders of the route.

Randolph County emergency services director Jim Wise said he confirmed one fatality and at least three people badly injured.

Of the two rail cars on their side, he said, "It was a pretty good impact."

"The tracks actually go acros U.S. 250 there, right on top of the mountain," he said, adding he knew of no accident at that site in recent memory.

Wise had said initially that 21 people were taken to a hospital in Elkins by ambulances and dozens of others were transported there by bus with lesser injuries.

Dunbrack said the train involved was operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Railroad.

The railroad operates several trains in the area, including the Cheat Mountain Salamander that runs Tuesdays through Saturdays in October on a 6.5-hour trip. The railroad said there were three passenger cars Friday on the 88-mile roundtrip that left Elkins on a route taking passengers to elevations of more than 4,000 feet.

The train travels about 25 mph alongside a boulder-strewn river, crossing a bridge barely wider than the train, rumbling through an 1,800-foot tunnel and then passing an abandoned rail bridge.

The overturned passenger cars lay beside the tracks, roped off with yellow crime scene tape as police and others looked on.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved and the emergency responders working the tragic accident in Randolph County this afternoon," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement.

Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin said state Department of Environmental Protection crews were sent to the site to help clean up a large fuel spill. Neither Goodwin nor Wise knew whether the spill came from the truck or the train.

Route 250 over Cheat Mountain was closed indefinitely.

The driver of the logging truck wasn't immediately identified.