30th Anniversary Of Metro Crash That Killed 3 People On Blue/Orange Line

1:14 PM, Jan 13, 2012   |    comments
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Video: FLASHBACK: Post-Air Florida And Metro Crashes 1982

emergency crews carry person on stretcher from Metro crash, Jan. 13, 1982 (WUSA)

WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- January 13, 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of a Metro crash that killed three people. A car of a Metro train derailed on the same snowy day in 1982 as the Air Florida Crash.

On Jan. 13, 1982, a train on the Orange Line was backing up through over a crossover switch between Federal Triangle and Smithsonian during the evening rush hour when a car derailed and crashed into a pillar between two tunnels. The Blue and Orange lines were shut down.

Some passengers who were able to walk away after the crash told WUSA's Bruce Johnson that they spent 45 minutes in the dark inside the car before rescue workers could pry open the train doors and guide them to safety. At least one person was trapped, according to that early report.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY PHOTOS: Air Florida, Metro Crash, Snowstorm On January 13, 1982

Three people were killed and twenty five people were injured, according to reports. WUSA's Bruce Johnson reported that the three people killed were two women and a man, and up to 20 people were injured in the accident (watch the attached video).

READ: The Wikipedia article on the 1982 Metro crash

A Metro history document (located on wmata.org) says that this crash was the first one that resulted in fatalities on the system. A WUSA report by Bruce Johnson on that day in 1982, also said that it was the first time people were killed on board a Metro train in the system's six-year history.

On June 22 2009, a Metro train crashed into a stopped train on the Red Line, killing nine people and injuring 80, according to the same document.

PHOTOS: 2009 Metro Crash - USA TODAY

Q & A: June 22 Red Line Collision - WMATA

STORY: Second Anniversary Of Metro Crash - WUSA 9

Authorities in early reports did not know what caused the crash. An investigation later revealed that operator error was the primary cause of the 1982 crash. According to Roads To The Future, "a misaligned switch caused the rear wheel truck to derail, and the wheels tracked alongside of the rails for 171 feet, following the opposite track, until the car impacted the concrete pillar."

A follow-up report from Bruce Johnson in 1982 says that during a news conference DC Mayor Marion Barry and Police Chief Turner applauded the city's emergency operations that day. They both blamed the snow and ice for delaying the response time of the emergency equipment to the disasters. The police chief said he had formed a task force to make recommendations about how to improve radio communications between area jurisdictions, citing that there had been problems but none that contributed to the number of fatalities.

Two of Bruce Johnson's reports are attached to this story.




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