Six Killed in D.C. Metro Collision
One Metro transit train smashed into the rear of another during Monday evening rush hour, killing at least six people and injuring scores of others as the front end of the trailing train jackknifed violently into the air and crashed onto the first.
The crash happened on the Red Line which runs below ground for much of its length but is on ground level at the accident site in northeast Washington near the Maryland border.
Metro chief John Catoe said the first train was stopped on the tracks, waiting for another to clear the station ahead, when the trailing train, one of the oldest in the Metro fleet, plowed into it from behind.
Cars of both trains were ripped open and smashed together in the worst accident in the Metrorail system’s 33-year history. District of Columbia fire spokesman, Alan Etter, said crews had to cut some people out of what he described as a “mass casualty event.” Rescue workers propped steel ladders up to the upper train cars to help survivors scramble to safety. Seats from the smashed cars spilled out onto the track.
Washington D.C.’s mayor, Adrian Fenty, said that six people were confirmed dead; including the operator of the trailing train. Fire Chief, Dennis Rubin, said that rescue workers treated 76 people at the scene. Several of those injured were sent to local hospitals, six with critical injuries.
More than 200 firefighters from Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. converged on the scene. Sabrina Webber, who lives in the neighborhood, said the first rescuers to arrive used the “jaws of life” to cut a wire fence along the rail line to reach the train.
Passenger Jodie Wickett, a nurse, told CNN she was seated on one train, sending text messages on her phone, when she felt the impact. She said she sent a message to someone that it felt like the train had hit a bump.
“From that point on, it happened so fast, I flew out of the seat and hit my head.” Wickett said she stayed at the scene and tried to help. She said “people are just in very bad shape.”
“The people that were hurt, the ones that could speak, were calling back as we called out to them,” she said. “Lots of people were upset and crying, but there were no screams.”
A certified nursing assistant who was on one of the trains told CNN affiliate WUSA she was trying to help those in severe condition after the crash, including a lady who appeared to be in her 20s.
“She is very, very torn in her legs — the muscles and everything are torn, ripped through. She had metal pieces in her face,” said the nursing assistant, who said her name was Jeanie.
At Howard University Hospital, Dr. Johnnie Ford, an emergency room doctor, said a 14-year-old girl suffered two broken legs in the accident. A 20-year-old male patient “looked like he had been tumbled around quite a bit, bumps and bruises from head to toe,” Ford said.
Metro Officials do not know what caused the collision. The National Transportation Safety Board took charge of the investigation and sent a team to the site.
Homeland Security Department spokeswoman, Amy Kudwa, said “at this early stage” there is nothing to indicate a terrorism connection.
Metro Chief, John Catoe, said in a statement, “we are extremely saddened that there are fatalities as a result of this accident, which has touched our Metro family.”