By: Allan M. Siegel
Following last week's tragic DC Metro incident at L'Enfant Plaza station, investigators and public officials have been working to piece together what exactly went wrong. On Wednesday January 21st, officials from Metro and the National transportation Safety Board (NTSB) met with 13 congressional members from Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia to discuss the accident, which resulted in one death and over 80 hospitalizations.
After the briefing, lawmakers weighed in by citing a number of failures. Below are some of the latest updates regarding last week's Metro incident:
- Electrical Malfunction - According to the NTSB's preliminary report, the electrical malfunction - which is believed to have been an arcing event - lasted for 44 minutes before Metro shut off power to the affected rail. The cause of the electrical malfunction is still yet to be determined, but it did produce smoke and caused severe damage to the third rail and electrical cables.
- Ventilation Fans - Transit experts have stated that ventilation fans in the L'Enfant Plaza station tunnels may not have been functioning properly and that fans on the affected train were possibly drawing smoke into the railcars. Investigators are still looking into how the fans were operating at the time of the incident.
Radio Problems - Firefighters in the station and tunnel had difficulties communicating by radio with commanders outside of the station. Metro officials stated the problem was caused by the fire department changing the encryption codes on their radios without notifying Metro. Although the issue was discovered just days before the January 12th incident, it was not fixed in until two days after the accident.
- Delayed Response - Due in part to radio problems experienced by first responders, many passengers were not evacuated in a timely process. Officials will continue to investigate evacuation protocol to determine if other failings delayed response time.
Congress has banded together by calling last week's incident completely unacceptable and an unnecessary tragedy. In the months to come, investigators, officials, and lawmakers will continue to explore what happened and how to improve Metro safety so similar incidents can be prevented. In the meantime, victims injured during the incident have the right to begin the process of recovering their damages.
Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. has extensive experience litigating cases against Metro, and is currently representing multiple victims injured in the incident at L'Enfant Plaza station. If you or someone you know suffered harm during the incident, contact our legal team for a free case evaluation.
Learn more about our experience with metro accidents and find updates on the L'Enfant incident here.