A 47-year-old Metro laborer who was hit by a train two weeks ago while working on the tracks died of his injuries Saturday, the first workplace fatality on the transit system in eight years.
Michael Waldron died in the intensive care unit at Washington Hospital Center, where he had been treated for extensive internal bleeding and a crushed left shoulder since the Oct. 1 accident, said his wife, Betty.
Waldron was assigned to a crew that was drilling holes in a retaining wall along the Yellow and Blue line tracks near the Braddock Road stop, according to Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. Trains in both directions were using a single track around the work crew, Farbstein said.
Members of Waldron's crew were finishing for the day about 4 p.m. and were throwing tools from the track where they had been working over the live track to the platform, Betty Waldron said. Michael Waldron was about to leave when he spotted a cord on the live track and bent over to pick it up, she said. He was hit by a Yellow Line train headed toward Huntington, Farbstein said.
Farbstein said the train was traveling at a normal speed, which would have been 25 to 35 mph through that stretch of track.
It is unclear why trains traveling through the area were not operating at restricted speeds, a standard operating procedure when a work crew is present.
The train also failed to blow its horn, according to Betty Waldron, who talked to a witness. Train operators are required to sound horns when they see anyone on a track.
Metro's safety department and the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the incident. Farbstein said that Metro's investigation is focused on "human factors" and that equipment failures or problems with the track have been ruled out.
Safety procedures around track work are especially important because Metro is performing an increasing amount of track work during midday and weekend periods, when trains are running.
Waldron had worked for Metro as a laborer with the track and structures department since 2002. He joined the transit system after 20 years of running a home improvement company, Cormac Construction Inc.
"He was just the nicest, kindest person," Betty Waldron said. "He never got mad, never got ugly with anybody, never used profanity. He was the nicest person and a great dad."
Waldron lived with his wife and their 13-year-old son, Andy, in Riverdale. His favorite time of year was the fall, and he delighted in taking short trips with his family to scenic spots such as Harpers Ferry, W.Va., "to see God's glory in all its beauty," Betty Waldron said. They had planned such a trip for the weekend of the accident, she said.
A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Hyattsville.