By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The Metro employee who was struck by a train last week died Monday, becoming the most recent fatality in a series of tragic events afflicting the system's operations in recent months.
John Moore, 44, of Arlington County, a communications technician, died four days after being hit by a train between the National Airport and Braddock Road stations, Metro said.
Moore was the third Metro employee to die on the job since the June 22 Red Line crash in which a train operator and eight passengers were killed. In addition, a subcontractor was electrocuted at a Metro bus garage.
In Thursday's accident, Metro said a preliminary investigation indicated that Moore had walked down a staircase in a vent shaft in an underground section of the track between the two stations.
He opened a door that offered access to the area of the track bed where trains operate and was struck, according to a statement Metro released late Monday.
Precise details of how Moore came to be struck remain unknown and are under investigation, Metro said. Federal officials are investigating the Red Line crash, and Metro's inquiry into the August death of Michael Nash, a track maintenance worker, is underway. The National Transportation Safety Board also has been notified of last week's incident.
"We are saddened to learn of Mr. Moore's passing," Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said in the Metro statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
Efforts to locate Moore's relatives Monday night were unsuccessful.
Jackie L. Jeter, president of the union that represents most of Metro's train and bus operators, said Moore's family "has asked us to respect their privacy."
The family representative with whom she had met earlier was a brother, she said.
She was reached within two or three hours of the death being reported by Metro and said it "would be premature" for her to comment.
In its statement, Metro said Moore was a communications technician in Metro's Track, Structures and System Maintenance Office. He was hired by Metro on Dec. 30, 1996.
His job included responsibility for the communications network that alerts the Operations Control Center of vital information coming from such components as fire alarms and sensors, Metro said.
It was not immediately clear Monday night what had brought him to the spot where he was struck.
Descending the stairs within the vent and opening a door placed him close to where trains operate, a Metro spokeswoman said Monday night. However, she said, a walkway at the bottom of the stairs makes it possible for employees to avoid the trains' right of way.
Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein described as speculation any suggestion that Moore might have been affected by suction or a blast of air generated by the approach or passage of the six-car Blue Line train, which was headed south from the airport toward Alexandria about 10:40 a.m.
"They are looking at everything," Farbstein said.
The nature of Moore's injuries was not disclosed. A news report on WAMU radio indicated that he had been on life support after the accident.
A cluster of fatalities involving Metro employees also occurred in 2006, when three workers were killed by trains in two incidents.
Catoe said focus on safety had intensified since the June 22 crash, in which one Red Line train rammed into the rear of another.
In the last previous fatality of a Metro employee, Nash was killed Aug. 9 in late-night work on the Orange Line in Fairfax County by a gravel spreading machine.
Catoe ordered safety training for all of Metro's front-line employees after that incident.
On Aug. 18, Steven T. Griffith, an employee of a subcontractor, was electrocuted while installing an air compressor at the Bladensburg bus garage.
In another high-profile incident, a 30-year-old woman was struck Sept. 3 and critically injured near Dupont Circle by a Metro bus.