In a solemn yet joyful memorial service punctuated by laughter and applause, family and friends remembered Carol I. Glover on Monday as a woman of strong faith who embraced life and those around her with a warm smile and gentle manner.
“Don’t feel guilty or bad. Be happy that the life she lived is now complete, and she did it well,” said her oldest son, Anthony R. Glover II.
More than 600 people attended the service at Capitol Hill Baptist Church to remember Glover, 61, a Washington native and resident of Alexandria, who died Jan. 12 after she and hundreds of others were trapped on a smoke-filled Yellow Line train in a tunnel just outside the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station. More than 80 other passengers were hospitalized.
She became the first passenger to die as a result of a Metro train incident since the 2009 Red Line crash that killed eight passengers, a Metrorail operator and injured scores of others.
Among those who attended the service was Jonathan Rogers, one of two men who helped give CPR to Glover as she struggled for air as smoke filled the train.
Her son said he took great comfort in knowing that in her final moments, his mother wasn’t alone.
“For 20 minutes, he gave all he could,” he said with a nod to Rogers, who sat with family members. “I love you for that. Thank you very much.”
Glover’s family and friends said Monday was painful, but in sharing memories and stories they found lessons for themselves in the way Glover lived her life and shared her faith.
Glover was a federal contractor who graduated with honors from Drexel University. A short biography in the memorial program said she was the “ultimate sports mom cheerleader” and was a den mother for her sons’ Scout troop.
In addition to Anthony, who lives in New Mexico, she has a son, Marcus, a District resident.
In a strong, clear voice, Glover’s mother, Corrine Inman, told those who had gathered that her daughter was in a better place.
“In life we all have a dark tunnel we have to go through,” she said. “Stay on track, and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.” Inman said she believed Carol found that light.
Trapped aboard the smoke-filled train, Inman said she believed her daughter, “relaxed, released and said, ‘Okay.’ ”
Carol always was her father’s favorite, Inman said. And so in some ways, Inman said, she found comfort in this detail: father and daughter died decades apart but on the same day — Jan. 12.
Glover’s father died of smoke inhalation after a house fire in the early 1980s, Inman said. Glover died of acute respiratory failure due to smoke exposure, according to the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The manner of her death was accidental.
“Let us not despair,” Inman said. “Carol’s death was for a purpose: to make a change.”
The incident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, which released a preliminary report Friday that offered new details: The train came to an abrupt stop inside the tunnel at 3:15 p.m., and it sat in the tunnel because a second train entered the station — a situation that may explain why the train operator tried but failed to reverse his train so that passengers could escape.
Metro officials have declined to comment on the matter publicly, citing the NTSB investigation.
In an ad titled “A Letter to Our Riders” in Sunday’s Washington Post, Tom Downs, Metro board chairman, and Jack Requa, interim general manager, promised an “absolute commitment” to a full accounting of the tragedy. The letter ended: “Your safety, and your trust in Metro to deliver safe and reliable service, is paramount to us.”
The letter also included an apology to “All Metro riders, and particularly to the family of Carol Glover and those injured or impacted by the events of Monday afternoon.’’
At the church, a display of photos greeted mourners as they moved into the sanctuary: Glover as a beaming mother of the groom, dancing with her son at his wedding, Glover holding one of her grandchildren and Glover with her two sons, the widest of smiles on her face.
Anthony Glover said he remembered coming close to losing his mother when he was a young child.
She’d had an asthma attack, and years later when he was older, she told him that she remembered floating above her body. It was the most calming experience she ever felt, she told him. But then, he recalled, she was stopped and someone — he didn’t know who — told her she had to go back because she still had work to do.
Glover said he dreaded going to sleep the night he got the news that his mother had died. He feared having nightmares. But instead, he said, he had a vision.
“I saw my mom sitting on that train,” he said. “She looked up, and there was a bright light. A voice said ‘Are you ready yet?’ and she had a big, beautiful smile on her face, and she got up and walked right off that train.”