January 15, 2015 — Metro passengers who were “trapped like rats” in a smoke-filed subway train have will file a lawsuit accusing the transit agency of failing to implement proper safety protocols for an evacuation, according to the WUSA9.
The incident occurred on Monday in a subway tunnel near Washington D.C.’s L’Enfant Plaza station. Some experts blamed the smoke on electrical arcing from the third rail, but the cause of the incident is still under investigation.
According to a timeline from the District of Columbia City Hall, the fire department and other emergency units received 13 emergency calls and went to three different locations. Metro officials tried to move the train back to the station, but it started and then jolted to a stop.
Lawyers for victims called the 45-minute emergency response time “atrocious,” considering that the train was stopped 800 feet from the station.
One woman died in the incident, a 61 year-old resident of Alexandria, Virginia. Another 83 people were sent to hospitals, including two people who were critically injured.
The lawsuit will be filed by Malbert Rich, a 53 year-old writer who was hospitalized. At a news conference today, he said:
“You had a lot of passengers crying, cursing at the staff. Some were praying loudly. After about 10 minutes of that, I actually texted my mother and my two children, my final message to them.”
He is represented by Kim Brooks-Rodney, who was a lawyer for Metro from 1988 to 1993 and represented victims of another deadly crash in 2009. She is alleging negligent maintenance, negligent inspections, and a negligent response to the situation.
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