NTSB can't investigate Metro accident scene
An accident early Sunday morning in a Metro tunnel near Union Station killed one man and seriously injured two other workers.
Metro is investigating the accident and notified the National Transportation Safety Board, an independent federal agency that determines causes of accidents and issues safety recommendations. But the NTSB said in a statement posted online Sunday that it would not be sending investigators to the scene because of staff furloughs.
NTSB said in the statement that it could only “engage in those activities necessary to address imminent threats to the safety of human life or for the protection of property.”
The Metro accident did not meet those criteria for exempting staff members from furloughs, according to the NTSB. The agency said it has asked Metro for their investigation report for future evaluation.
NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in an e-mail Sunday that because the public affairs staff was furloughed, the agency could not provide additional updates to the media.
This is not the first example of the NTSB being unable to dispatch investigators due to the shutdown. A small aircraft in Arizona crashed on Friday afternoon, killing four people. The NTSB said the crash similarly didn’t meet the criteria for exempting employees from furloughs.
There have been exceptions. NTSB investigators looking into last week’s train crash in Forest Park, Ill., which saw two trains collide outside Chicago during the morning commute, were allowed to complete their work before returning to furloughed status.