Residents of Washington D.C., Maryland and surrounding areas are still reeling from news of a tragic commuter train crash that killed at least seven people and injured dozens more last night. For reasons not completely known, a Metrorail Red Line train collided at what appears to be a high rate of speed with a second, stopped train during Monday’s peak evening commute. The violent crash caused the moving train to jackknife, throwing several of its cars up and onto the top of the other train. According to reports, this “mass casualty event” is the worst train accident in the District of Columbia since 1982.
As a Maryland personal injury and car accident attorney, I have personally traveled on this particular Metro line many times in the past. As commuters, we all expect to travel in relative safety on subway trains and city buses. Ruling out any terrorist connection, this accident could have resulted from driver error or possibly faulty equipment on the tracks, or even the trains themselves.
Whatever the cause, the results are terribly sad for the families of those unexpectedly killed and painful for those hurt or hospitalized. Injuries from accidents like this can range from bumps and bruises to broken bones, traumatic brain injuries or damage to the spinal column.
News reports indicated that seven people have been confirmed killed and that more fatalities may be forthcoming. Initially, six people were confirmed dead, including the operator of the trailing train, Jeanice McMillan of Springfield, Virginia. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin said rescue workers treated 76 people at the scene and sent some of them to local hospitals.
So far, officials have no explanation for the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is in charge of the investigation, while DC police and the FBI also have personnel at the scene. Normally, these trains should maintain a safe distance between each other, and it is not yet clear what went wrong.
There was also no official statement regarding how fast the one train was traveling before it hit the other waiting train, although the crash happened in a long stretch between rail stations where trains typically allowed to travel at higher speeds, according to a Metro spokesperson. Meanwhile, investigators are also searching the wreckage for the “black box” recording devices carried onboard these trains, which may hold answers to this horrendous event.