Two Metro workers struck and killed by track equipment

By: Kytja Weir January 26, 2010

Metro resumed service at two Red Line stations midday Tuesday, but the investigation continues into the track accident that killed two veteran track workers.   Jeff Garrard, 49, and Sung Oh, 68, both of Montgomery County, were killed after they were hit by a Metro truck along the outbound Red Line tracks outside of the Rockville station.   The men, both automatic train control technicians, were replacing track equipment that ensures the safety of trains when a special high-rail truck equipped to travel on tracks struck them around 1:45 a.m.   Garrard had worked for Metro for nearly 20 years, while Oh had been with the agency for more than 11 years. The driver of the truck was tested for drugs and alcohol, as is standard in any accident.   “As I have done several times over the past year, I strongly urge the authority to take the appropriate actions to ensure the safety of workers and riders on the Metrorail,” said Jackie Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 that represents the workers involved. “We can only hope that no further accidents will result in the loss of life anywhere on the system.”   The accident was just the latest in a series of unprecedented and deadly safety failures for the agency. In August, a track worker was killed by a gravel spreader, then a month later a communications worker for the agency also died of injuries after being hit by a train. Three workers were injured in a rail yard crash in late November, then in December an independent team of track safety inspectors was nearly struck by a speeding train.   The safety inspectors issued a damning report following the near-miss showing multiple failures of the agency’s track safety policies, including track workers using the wrong hand signals and trains failing to slow down for track teams. Track safety classes failed to teach Metro’s own safety rules.   Both Metro and National Transportation Safety Board teams are investigating the Tuesday incident.   The accident caused major problems along the Red Line for morning commuters, as both the Shady Grove and Rockville stations were closed until 12:18 p.m. The transit agency ran shuttle buses to the Twinbrook station, but riders encountered major crowding and long delays, not to mention heavy traffic on Interstate-270 and Route 355 as they drove to other stations.   Service is not expected to face delays from the accident during the afternoon commute.

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