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Metro: Mechanic hit by train due to loss of ‘situational awareness’

Adam Tuss,

WASHINGTON – Metro is blaming a recent accident that left a mechanic fighting for his life on a loss of focus by the mechanic.

The transit agency called it a “temporary loss of situational awareness” in an update Thursday. The mechanic, a 28-year Metro veteran, was hit by a slow-moving train in a maintenance area of the Shady Grove Rail Yard on May 29.

Metro’s Chief Safety Officer Jim Dougherty showed the Metro Board of Directors a diagram of the incident, detailing that the mechanic had just entered a rail car wash area from an outside door. After walking past a short, solid wall, the mechanic then walked right in front of the train.

“The train operator reported not seeing the employee, nor aware that the train had struck an employee,” Dougherty says. “The operator noted other employees on the elevated work platform pointing. The operator stopped the train, opened the window, and heard someone request help.”

Witnesses noted that the mechanic was looking down at the time of impact.

The mechanic was dragged 38 feet from the point of impact before being pinned under the train for about an hour. His name has not been released, but the mechanic is listed in critical but stable condition.

Metro says it has followed up by visiting other rail car wash areas around the system to make sure a similar accident will not happen again.

Exterior doors at these car wash areas will now be locked, mirrors will be installed on trains, and audio and visual devices may be used to warn about train movements in these areas.

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