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NTSB Hearing On Metro Crash Begins; Families React

6:27 PM, Feb 23, 2010   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA/AP) -- Family members are reacting as a federal hearing on the fatal June Metro train crash begins.

Nine people, including the train operator, were killed in the crash and dozens were injured.

Kenneth Hawkins, whose brother was among the victims, spoke with 9NEWS NOW's Scott Broom during a break in the hearing. "Is there a safety culture within the WMATA system, and based on what was presented from the WMATA panel, there is clearly no evidence of a safety culture in that organization. That's something that really needs to be looked at."

Vernard McMillan's sister, Jeanice, was the train operator.  "The bottom line is to get to the point where Metro can be safe for everyone. Other families won't have to go through what we went through."


VIEW SLIDESHOW FROM CRASH


The National Transportation Safety Board is hearing from investigators and Metro leaders during a three-day public hearing that will continue through Thursday. The NTSB has headed a review into the cause of the crash in which a moving train slammed into another train stopped on the tracks between the Fort Totten and Takoma stations.

The board also is expected to consider state and federal oversight issues for rail transit and passenger systems.

Under questioning new Metro board chariman Peter Benjamin called for a new "culture of safety" at Metro.

Later, outgoing Metro General Manager John Catoe explained the system's chief safety officer did not report directly to him in the months before the crash.  A new acting safety manager, Mike Taborn now reports directly to the top.  But Taborn said there is still no database for tracking systemwide safety issues over time. 

The NTSB panel will continue Wednesday with technical questions about the electronic systems that have been the focus of the investigation in the wake of the June tragedy.

The NTSB has made no formal findings about what caused the accident.

JUNE VICTIMS:

Mary "Mandy" Doolittle

Veronica DuBose

Anna Fernandez

Dennis Hawkins

Lavonda King

Jeanice McMillan (Train operator)

Maj. General David Wherley and Ann Wherley

Cameron Williams

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