A garbage-truck driver who drove into the path of a train carrying Republican members of Congress was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter Wednesday in the death of his passenger.
The jury's verdict in the trial of Dana Naylor Jr., 31, came after five hours of deliberation and more than a year after the January 2018 crash with the chartered Amtrak train, The Daily Progress reported.
The lawmakers were headed to a retreat at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. Christopher Foley, 28, was killed in the crash in Crozet, and Dennis Eddy was severely injured.
A charge of maiming under the influence was dropped after the judge ruled out certain scientific testimony and blood evidence on Tuesday. Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Tracci said the decision made it difficult to maintain the DUI charge. It's difficult to establish impairment for some substances using toxicological evidence alone, he said.
Amanda Snow, the sole defense witnessed called, testified that she had lived near the crash site for almost three years and the crossing gate arms regularly malfunctioned, sometimes lowering for no reason. Tracci questioned Snow's account, particularly her claim that she had seen the arms lowered for a "full day."
Tracci called on jurors to find that Naylor acted with "callous disregard for human life" by driving onto the train tracks. He said witness testimony was consistent about Naylor's statement that he tried to beat the train but "wasn't fast enough" and that the death and injury of his coworkers was "all his fault."
Defense attorney William Tanner argued that Naylor's statements after the crash showed natural guilt and shouldn't be taken as an admission he knowingly drove in the train's path.
"Why on Earth would [Naylor] risk the lives of himself, his coworkers and those on the train to save a minute while he was working?" Tanner said.
Naylor and his lawyer declined to comment to the newspaper. He's named in two lawsuits filed by train passengers.
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Some members of the congressional delegation rushed to the warped, overturned truck after the train stopped, including at least two who did the same at the shooting at a congressional baseball practice that left Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., severely wounded: Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup.
Flake said on CNN that he helped secure a very badly injured person onto a stretcher and saw another person who was dead: "They worked on him for quite a while but they could not revive him."