Washington Train Crash Death Toll Rises to 9


trainAt least nine people were killed and at least 75 injured when one Metro subway train slammed into another on the outskirts of the city during the afternoon rush hour on Monday, emergency officials said. The District of Columbia Fire Department raised the death toll to nine early today after rescue workers located three bodies in the wreckage late last night, according to The Associated Press. “It looks to be the worst Metro accident in D.C. history,” said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. “We’re going to investigate this and find out what happened.”The general manager of the Metro system, John B. Catoe Jr., said one train had stopped near a platform and was waiting for permission to proceed when it was hit from behind by the second train.

Mr. Catoe did not speculate on whether safety devices intended to prevent such crashes had failed, saying the authorities were still focused on rescuing passengers.

A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said that there were nine investigators on the scene and that all recent safety recommendations the board had made to the city transit system were being reviewed.

At the scene, one subway car sat fully on top of a car from the other train. The car on top had part of its floor sheared off, and the wreckage was a jumble of twisted metal. Seats from the smashed cars had spilled onto the tracks.

Several passengers were carried off on stretchers, and rescue crews used ladders and heavy equipment to cut into the wreckage and reach passengers stuck inside. Helicopters buzzed overhead. The police scrambled to coordinate traffic, onlookers and the rescue workers.

Emergency medical personnel set up a triage site at the nearby Jarboe Printing Company. Rescue officials said about 75 passengers were treated for injuries. At least three people were seriously injured and the rest had only minor injuries. Numerous people walked away from the crash site wearing bandages, slings and in at least one case, a neck brace.

Among the dead was the operator of the train that crashed into the stopped one. She was identified by the mayor’s office as Jeanice McMillan, 42.

In a statement, President Obama said: “Michelle and I were saddened by the terrible accident in Northeast Washington, D.C., today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends affected by this tragedy. I want to thank the brave first responders who arrived immediately to save lives.”

The crash occurred around 5 p.m. on a heavily traveled Metro route, the Red Line, that shuttles thousands of commuters every day from the suburbs into the city. It occurred between the Takoma and Fort Totten stations, where there is a long stretch of track, meaning trains often reach high speeds.

“It was a huge impact,” said Maya Maroto, 31, of Burtonsville, Md., who was in the third car of the moving train. “Our first inclination was that we hit another train or car.”

An elderly woman sitting near them flew out of her seat and landed sprawled on the floor.

Ms. Maroto said she did not realize the seriousness of the accident until she looked out the door and saw the front of her train wedged on top of the other one. Minutes later she looked again and saw a body on the tracks.

Passengers said about 15 minutes passed before officials showed up or any announcements were made.

“It was kind of scary that no one was there,” said Allison Miner, 49, a nutritionist from Silver Spring, Md., who was in the same car as Ms. Maroto.

Suzanne Motta, who was riding in the fourth car of the moving train, said, “Anybody standing up got knocked down.”

“A gentleman came in carrying a girl with a laceration on her foot,” Ms. Motta added. “He had a laceration on his head. Everybody was pretty shook up.”

Jervis Bryant, 39, who lives about two blocks from the crash site, arrived at the scene soon after he heard a loud boom. He said he saw people inside the bottom train car. “It was a scene I never thought I’d see,” he said.

Much of the Metrorail system, which opened in 1976, runs below ground. Both trains involved in the accident were above ground.

“This is an aging system and one that needs to be looked at very closely,” said Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The accident was the second involving passenger fatalities in the system. In 1982, three people died after a train derailed between the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian stations.

{NY Times/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. It’s chasdei HaShem that the trains were above ground. If they had been in a tunnel the first car on the rear train would have been smashed against the ceiling and probably no-one would have survived.

    According to media reports, the rear train was composed of old cars of a kind that had been involved in a crash in 2004, and safety recommendations had been made then that were not followed. Was the Metro economizing because of lack of funds? Maybe the people who fund the Metro should stop trying to be so frugal and give the transporation system enough money to function safely. Having seen some of the conditions in the past on the NYC subway system, I was willing to vote for whoever would promise to fix it.

  2. The Red Line serves the largest frum communities in the National Capitol area. We do not have a Hatzalah organization here.

    There was at least one frum first responder at the crash site last night. As of this morning, no word of any Jewish casualties.