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My Own Great Books

The Crash

As I write this, six people are confirmed dead; over 70 are injured.

At just about 5:00 this afternoon, I was getting ready to jump on Metro to meet Joe at the Verizon Center for a Capitals event. Then my phone rang. It was Joe.

"The Metro train I'm on just crashed into another train. I'm probably not going to make it to the arena."

It took a second to sink in. A crash?? A CRASH!!

"Are you hurt?"

"No, I'm fine. But it's bad."

Indeed, very bad. Somehow, the train Joe was on rear-ended another train that was stopped in between the Takoma and Fort Totten stations. The first car of Joe's train ended up on top of the last car of the other train.

Think about that. The one car was on top of the other. It makes me shiver.

Joe was in the last car of the eight-car train. He says the crash, to the passengers in his car, felt like a particularly sudden stop, but not anything terribly serious. After a few minutes, one man pulled the emergency door release and opened the center doors of the car. That's when they looked out and saw the wreckage. As soon as he saw it, Joe knew that people were dead.

Someone said they should all get off the train. Joe spoke up and said they should stay right where they were; for one thing, they had no way of knowing whether the power was still on to the third rail. Everyone agreed, so they just sat tight and waited.

Soon people started into their car from the second car -- one man carried his injured girlfriend. Her foot was badly lacerated and she clearly had a concussion. A nurse on Joe's car treated her wound and kept her awake.

Finally a Metro transit officer came into the car to see if anyone was hurt. Joe asked, "How bad is it?" and the officer replied, "It's the worst I've ever seen."

Eventually a firefighter came in and took everyone's name, address, and phone number. Then he directed them out of the train and into an adjacent parking lot, where the EMTs were doing triage. Those who not injured were allowed to leave.

Joe walked up to a local restaurant -- Takoma Station for you locals -- and had a beer. He called me and I picked him up there. Now he's out on the porch, decompressing and letting the adrenaline subside.

I hug him every time I see him. I hug him every time I see him.