Metrorail operator accused of operating train under the influence

A Metrorail operator is accused of operating a train while under the influence and has been arrested.

The incident, as first reported by Greater Greater Washington, happened on Dec. 23, after a Blue Line train bypassed the Van Dorn Street Station. It came to a stop for more than 30 minutes and then let customers off at Franconia-Springfield Station.

Metro officials and emergency responders said they found the operator under the influence of alcohol, and he was arrested by Metro Transit Police on a charge of driving while intoxicated.

Just before 11 p.m. on Dec. 23, another train operator saw the stopped train on one of the tracks. The operator of the second train blew his horn approximately four times, but there was no response from the stopped train, a Metro Transit Police report said.

Police said the stopped train “appeared to be keyed up.”

Metro Transit Police, along with rail personnel, law enforcement and the fire department responded to get a rescue train. As they made their way, the stopped train started to move toward the Franconia-Springfield station. Officers were dispatched to intercept the train.

At the Franconia-Springfield Station, officers observed that the train operator, identified as Damon Keith Roberts Jr., “appeared to be under the influence,” the police report said.

The report also said that Roberts overshot the platform at Van Dorn Street Station by about two train car lengths; he stopped for four seconds without opening the doors, and he never serviced the station. He then proceeded to leave the station toward the Franconia-Springfield Station, and then stopped the train for an undetermined reason.

Roberts underwent a series of sobriety tests, after which he was arrested for suspicion of DWI.

Metro said that Roberts has been an employee since 2017 and has been an operator since 2019.

“He will not be allowed to return to work per Metro’s rules, which strictly enforce drug and alcohol policies. Metro performs random testing in accordance with FTA requirements and is in compliance with all FTA drug and alcohol regulations,” Metro spokesperson Sherri Ly said.

Metro said that the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission was notified and updated in real-time when it happened.

A Washington Metrorail Safety Commission spokesman said, “Metrorail reported the event outside of the required notification window, and later provided additional details that are now part of our ongoing investigative work.”

Washington Metrorail Safety Commission said it is reviewing what further action may be required. Metro said it continues to investigate the incident.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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