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Metro Chair Says Human Error Caused Fatalities

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The scene of the latest Metro accident.
The scene of the latest Metro accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board has begun what it says will be a thorough investigation of this morning's Metro accident that killed two veteran workers. Jeff Garrard and Sung Oh were working on the tracks a few blocks from the Rockville Station in Maryland when they were struck by a maintenance truck.

D.C. Councilman Jim Graham, Metro's outgoing board chairman, says human error caused this mornings accident on the Red Line.

"And I'm not prepared to go into details on that," he says, "but I did want to say that much to you today."

The National Transportation Safety Board has begun investigating the case. Stephen Klejst, the investigator in charge, says the board is examining a number of factors.

"Conditions at the time of the accident, such as lighting, weather, ambient noise on-track worker protection, rules and procedures; we will obtain all radio recordings between the crews and the operations control center," she says.

Klejst says the NTSB is testing the workers involved in the accident for drugs and alcohol. And investigators will perform sight-distance tests, and obtain the employees 72-hour work history: standard procedure during NTSB investigations.

This morning's fatalities are the most recent in a string of incidents that have raised questions about Metros safety. But Graham says employees and passengers should not lose faith.

"What is different this time is the fact that we're on the verge of bringing in new extraordinary leadership to address these issues," he says. "On the other occasions, you know, we were not at that juncture."

Metro's First Vice Chairman, Peter Benjamin, will take over for Graham on Thursday. The board also is looking for a new general manager. Graham says he expects the search to last up to six months.


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