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NTSB Hearing Into Metro Crash Wraps Up

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Day three of the NTSB hearing looking into last June's Metro red line crash.
Day three of the NTSB hearing looking into last June's Metro red line crash.

By Matt Bush

The National Transportation Safety Board wrapped up its hearing into last June's Metro crash that killed nine people. The final day of questioning focused on "high reliability organizations", which include nuclear power plants and those who oversee nuclear weapons systems, according to the NTSB's Robert Sumwalt.

"We know there are certain organizations, the way that certain organizations conduct their business, allow them to have considerably better safety records," says Sumwalt. "We want to see what we can learn from those organizations, extract that and apply it to other modes of transportation, including rail transit operations."

One of those who testified was Earl Carnes of the U.S. Department of Energy. He helps oversee nuclear reactors.

"Human error is a symptom of a deeper problem within the system," he says. "And that is an attitudinal shift that is necessary for people to really understand how high reliability organizations can function."

Metro's culture of safety was at the center of the three-day hearing. Carolyn Jenkins, the mother of one of the nine people who died in the accident, was asked what she'll take away from the proceedings.

"Right now, the way I feel is, is that everybody was at work, and nobody was doing their job," she says. "So now, I have a bigger job. I have to go and tell my grandkids that nobody was doing their job. And it's sad."

The NTSB hopes to release its final report on the crash by the one-year anniversary of the accident in June.


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