Memorial Services Honor Victims of and Those Affected by Metro Red Line Crash

By Timothy Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hundreds of mourners gathered at memorial services during the past week to pay homage to the victims and first responders of Metro's Red Line crash that killed nine people and injured about 80 last week.

Investigators said they think a control system might have malfunctioned and failed to detect an idling train on the tracks.

Their findings suggest that the oncoming train might not have received information that a train was stopped ahead of it north of the Fort Totten Station.

The stopped train was struck in the rear by the oncoming train operated by Jeanice McMillan. The Metrorail worker and eight others were killed in the crash.

Tributes began Thursday evening, when about 200 friends and family members gathered for a candlelight vigil at the Kenilworth-Parkside Recreation Center in Northeast Washington to honor LaVonda "Nikki" King.

"We are here tonight to reflect upon the wonderful, joyous life that has been lived," the Rev. John Brown said at the vigil, where some people wore custom T-shirts featuring various pictures of King and later released dozens of pink balloons into the sky.

On Friday morning, a memorial service took place at Temple of Praise in Southeast Washington for McMillan, who Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said saved lives by applying the emergency brakes on Train 112 before it slammed into Train 214. He called her "the Metro hero."

More than 100 Metro employees attended the service in honor of their fallen colleague.

An interfaith prayer service led by Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, honoring those affected by the crash, was held Friday afternoon at St. Mary, Mother of God Catholic Church in Northwest.

More than 60 firefighters and emergency medical personnel from the District and Montgomery County attended the service, including staff members from Rescue Squad 2 and Engine Company 11 in the District, who arrived first at the crash site.

"It is not only the victims who are affected, but the entire metropolitan area," Siva Subramanian, first vice president of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, said at the service.

Mourners gathered at a wake Sunday night at a church in Hyattsville for Ana Fernandez. Her parents traveled from El Salvador to attend the service.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company