City Desk

On the Scene: Metro Collision Eyewitness Accounts

Mike DeBonis is calling in from the site of the Red Line collision near the Fort Totten station.

UPDATE 6:40 p.m.:

One Red Line train had been stopped on the tracks. It had just begun to move when it was struck from behind by a speeding train.

Brenda Payton was on the speeding train. "We just felt a big crunch and saw smoke and stuff. We got off the train as fast as we could." Payton is from Fort Washington, and she was heading home. Another woman on that train, Anastasia McKeown, says that just before the impact, the ramming train slowed down. "Then we felt an impact just after that. You could tell we hit something that wasn't an animal."

Though McKeown was in the last car, she saw one of the plastic partitions in the ramming train fall on someone's head. McKeown had back and neck injuries. A triage area for victims has been set up outside Jarvoe Jarboe Printing Co. People there are mostly folks who've been injured but are not in critical condition.

As for the stopped train, here's one account of what happened. Dennis, who declined to give his last name, says his train had just barely started to move when the impact happened. Dennis stepped out of the train and could see "three or four people on the ground, all bloody." Dennis was in the fifth car, one removed from the impact. After staggering out of the train, he spotted a woman on top of that sixth car, and blood was streaming down. "The interior of that car just got crushed," said Dennis.

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  • Angry Al Gonzales

    It's probably the fault of the junkie driver who left me stranded in Takoma Park at 11:44 p.m. two weeks ago tonight. Metro does an extremely poor job of supervising its train & bus operators - per se negligence, for you neophyte lawyers out there.

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  • elaine

    Not that it matters but it's Jarboe Printing, with a B. Used to be a vendor of ours. If they're doing a good Samaritan thing in giving their property over to rescue personnel they might as well get the press.

  • Kelly

    You weren't on the train were you Mike?

  • Jule Banville

    Fixed. Thanks, Elaine.

  • JJ

    This accident is most likely not the fault of the metro rail train drivers. The drivers also do not 'strand' people. Passengers are required to board within a certain time segment, or they will risk being left behind. Trains only stay in the station for a short time to avoid causing problems in the schedule.

    On a secondary note, the metro rail is government funded, and the city has refused to pay for updates and repairs on the line. Which means this is the fault of the

  • JJ

    city for not doing reapairs.

  • Dale

    he DC Fire Chief provided incorrect information concerning the number of injuries/fatalities. Channel 7 News provided an update with the correct info...

  • Adams Morgan

    Wondered how long it would take for someone to blame the District. The Metro is not solely D.C's is a joint effort between D.C., MD and VA.

  • mel

    Condolences and sympathy for those in harms way, and those who have died in this accident.

    Stop blaming train drivers -- one just lost her life. Have some respect.

    As a rider of this line, I've noticed the train always stops between Fort Totten and Takoma. Sometimes for as long as five minutes. Is there something wrong with the track there? If so, its been wrong for awhile. It's always felt dangerous to stop on the tracks like that.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    "Even if the signal system failed to stop the train, the operator should have intervened and applied emergency brakes, safety experts familiar with Metro's operations say. The position of the second train after the crash -- the fact that its first car came to rest atop the other train -- indicates that the second train was traveling at high speed." From the WaPo website this evening.

    Two Metro trains cannot crash into each other unless operator error is involved. QED.

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  • meto

    I'll bet money that a large part of the cause of the crash was that at least one of the operators was in a hurry to get home. Most union agreements allow workers to go home when their route is done. So if they get back to the station 20 minutes early, well they get off early. At every workplace people are in a hurry at the end of the day. Paying people to rush so they can leave early it is just asking for trouble. The bus operators have killed dozens of people for the same reason.

  • Q

    "In a hurry to get home" ?!? Train #2 was just a few stations into the route from Glenmont to Shady Grove -- a mere 22 stations away at the point of impact. Considering she was from Springfield, VA, one would surmise that with the usual VA traffic and HOV, there would be no need to RUSH and finish her route.

    Please read:

  • Patrick

    delays on the red line are completely ridiculous

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    Q, as usual you're completely backwards in your "facts". The trains were northbound, so were only a few stops from the end of the line. You seem to think the trains were just starting out - & you're wrong. Again.
    Meto is right - bus drivers in a rush to finish their routes to get home have killed dozens of people. Every person who actually rides the bus knows that bus drivers go nuts trying to finish their last routes as fast as possible. Who knows what the situation was here, since Metro is keeping a lot of facts secret.