Yesterday I rode on a Metro train through a station while emergency crews were removing the body of a passenger who had been struck by a train. I’ve lived within walking distance of a five different Metro stops during my 23 years in the DC area and have never experienced this situation. All reports indicate this was an intentional act.
I heard about the accident 45 minutes before I was going to leave my home but I had no choice. My husband and I were having lunch with friends visiting DC for the day. The alerts indicated trains were single-tracking through the White Flint station, so my only concession was to leave 20 minutes earlier than I had planned to make up for the delay.
Part of me was concerned about having to witness the incident. The station was closed to the public but the trains were continuing. Unfortunately these suicides have become common place. Before I left the house, I read this was the second one in a month’s time. The first occurred while the Metro staff were meeting to discuss the problem. I assumed they have a sufficient system in place to take care of the incident.
When we pulled into the station, the platform was empty. I was seated on the side away from the platform so I couldn’t see the Metro train involved with the incident until we were pulling out of the station. At first, since it wasn’t visible, I thought they might have already cleared the tracks. They hadn’t. The train had barely entered the station. I saw the first car of the train, then the second, and then the group of emergency personnel standing around a large blue tarp stretched across a metal frame.
Since the train involved in the incident was entering the station, it must have been going at a good rate of speed. The body was further back under the train than I expected. I guessed that was how long it took the driver to stop, the length of a couple of cars.
The expressions on the emergency workers’ faces keep haunting me. They looked over at us as we pulled past, waiting for us to be out of sight. The looks are difficult to describe. Their job was gruesome and it showed. My glimpse showed people who wanted the task to be over. I didn’t blame them for not wanting to be there. I felt bad for them.
The weather was perfect. The sun was bright. The station was clean. The train was shiny. But beneath the normalcy of this beautiful day hid the horror of the terrible task at hand. Sadly, the experience is becoming too common.
Rest in peace.