• Shocking New Details Emerge In DC Metro Smoke Incident That Left A Woman Dead

    Poor communication, slow response time and lack of leadership are to blame for the Jan. 12 smoke incident in a Metro tunnel that trapped dozens of riders in a train, according to documents released by the National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday.

    Two Metro Transit Police officers were alerted to the smoke in the tunnel and walked about 50 feet into the tunnel before turning around and abandoning the investigation, assuming the smoke was just brake dust. The smoke had cleared and the two officers didn’t report the incident, The Washington Times reported.

    “There was no more smoke after we did a little tunnel inspection to make sure nothing was coming from the tunnel,” MTP officer Franchesca Young told investigators in an interview transcript released Tuesday. “When we turned around, we were walking back to the platform, there was nothing in the air. It was clear.”

    That interview was part of more than 6,000 pages of documents released by the NTSB as part of a two-day fact-finding hearing about the incident, and many more interviews describe the chaotic details of what happened that day.

    One of those interviews came from the operator of the train trapped in the tunnel who, according to The Washington Post, begged train controllers in the Metro central command station to let him back out of the tunnel, but he was repeatedly told not to move.

    A train controller at Metro’s Rail Operations Control Center told the operator, James Curley, to stand by while he said he heard people “kicking and banging” on the doors as the trains filled with smoke.

    “I was going back and forth with them, saying, ‘Central: Be advised — I got people on the train. They’re saying they can’t breathe, they’re coughing, they’re vomiting. I need to get back to the platform,’ ” Curley told investigators.

    The problem, though, was that another train had pulled up to the platform behind Curley’s train and everyone on that train had been evacuated. Train controllers repeatedly told that train to back up from the platform, but there was no one on the train to hear their commands.

    After transit police had removed everyone from the train, a supervisor in the station attempted to run down and move the train back so the train trapped in the tunnel could share the platform, but he said officers literally removed him from the station.

    The supervisor, Patrick Adams, said “At some point, I actually got on the train,” though shortly after he was pulled off by police because it was too dangerous for him to be there.

    Ultimately, the train was never moved and it took firefighters over 30 minutes from the time the incident started to reach the close to 400 passengers trapped in the tunnel.

    By that time, though, Carol Glover, 61, a grandmother from nearby Alexandria, Va., had already succumbed to respiratory failure due to smoke inhalation. More than 80 other people were also sickened by the smoke exposure.

    The NTSB is expected to finalize a report on the incident by early next year.

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