Metro Operator Would Have Done 'Anything in Her Power' to Prevent Crash, Friend Says

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 23, 2009; 12:44 PM

Jeanice McMillan so looked forward to work each morning that she would meticulously iron her Metro uniform the night before. When driving a bus route in Northern Virginia in recent years, she would tell friends how much she enjoyed interacting with passengers.

McMillan, 42, of Springfield, died yesterday at the helm of her Red Line Metro train, which hurtled into the back of another train that had stopped between the Takoma and Fort Totten stations during the evening rush.

Metro said today that McMillan began working as a train operator on Dec. 8.

One neighbor who knew her well said today that McMillan would have done "anything in her power" to prevent the accident.

"She was so proud of her job, and she truly loved her passengers," said Joanne Harrison, who has lived across the hall from McMillan's apartment for five years and became a close friend. "If she had survived, she would have gone to each and every one of those people who were hurt, and the families of those who died, and she would have hugged them and cried with them."

Harrison said McMillan was always smiling and left for work every morning with her hair just so and her nails done perfectly. When she drove a bus in Northern Virginia -- a route that took her through Alexandria and around the Pentagon -- McMillan would often return from work talking about how much her passengers loved her and how she wanted to talk to all of them about their day and their problems.

"She loved making everyone smile and be happy," Harrison said. "She was just a happy person. She loved making everyone feel comfortable. I admired her so much."

Numerous Metro drivers posted comments about the crash online, describing McMillan as a sweet person and saying she will be missed. Drivers said they could not speak publicly about McMillan or the incident. One driver, speaking anonymously, said the "Metro family" is in shock.

McMillan's family could not be reached this morning for comment.

Staff Writer Lena H. Sun contributed to this report.

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