Metro Train Kills Man at Northern Virginia Station

A man was struck and killed Wednesday by a train entering the West Falls Church-VT/UVA station. Video by Anna Uhls/The Washington Post
By James Hohmann, Greg Gaudio and Adam Griffiths
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, August 13, 2009

A man was struck and killed Wednesday morning by a Metro train entering the West Falls Church-VT/UVA station, at least the fifth time a person has intentionally stepped in front of a train since the beginning of June, a Metro official said.

"It's highly unusual," spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.

The six-car Orange Line train was headed in the direction of New Carrollton when the incident happened at 11:18 a.m.

Metro identified the victim as Sangjin Lee, 45, of Arlington County. Virginia's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is investigating.

Corine Hagan, who lives in Haymarket, was on the first car of the train that hit the man Wednesday. She said that the train was about halfway from the end of the platform when she heard a loud thud and that the train stopped immediately.

"You just never hear anything like that," she said. "It sounded like a large bird hitting the train."

Hagan said two transit workers in the lead car immediately told passengers to clear out.

Trains traveling in both directions shared a track for nearly three hours, but regular service resumed at 2 p.m., Metro said. Transit Police, aided by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, cordoned off a platform during that time.

The apparent suicide was another frustrating situation for Metro, which is under heightened scrutiny after the June 22 Red Line crash, which killed nine people and injured 80, and other incidents this summer.

On Sunday night, Metro spotter Michael Nash was struck and killed by maintenance equipment on an Orange Line track between the Dunn Loring-Merrifield and Vienna/Fairfax-GMU stations, not far from Wednesday's accident.

This was the sixth apparent suicide in which a person was struck by a Metro train since March, Farbstein said. A man struck by a Red Line train on July 25 survived.

"There's not really much the system can do about that kind of accident," said Arlington resident Fernando Pena, 35, before boarding an Orange Line train at the Court House Station.

Passenger Terriesa Jones, 42, of Upper Marlboro was puzzled by the recent spate of Metro incidents. "For the Metro not to have any incidents for 20 years, it makes me wonder if some sabotage is going on," Jones said, "because everything seems to be going wacko all of a sudden."

Staff researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company