When we left class today at 5:30pm, I remarked to my roommate how peaceful the city felt on the warm summer afternoon. There was not the usual hustle and bustle. "Did everyone just decide to stay home from work?"
Little did I know that half an hour beforehand, there was a deadly metro crash, ultimately killing six people.
We had no idea anything was wrong until we got to the metro and the board with the ETAs was completely blank. I knew something was strange, but it was not until we reached the turnstiles and saw bright yellow signs saying "massive metro delays" did I realize that something was amiss. Metro delays are not uncommon, especially during the summer. But I had never seen these signs before.
So my roommate and I headed back up to wait for the bus. Then I received a text message from my dad saying that there was a train crash. On our bus ride home, which was packed, we found out more and more details from people checking their blackberries and receiving calls from friends and family. Crash on the red line (the line I take home). Fatalities. Fort Totten. Train derailed. Reports of 1+ hours metro delays with people packed in sweaty cars. As we saw ambulances head east, we knew they were on their way to the site.
The whole experience is still kind of surreal. Six hours ago, everything seemed normal. The metro, and the red line in particular, was just my way to get to barbri classes everyday. Now it is the headlines nationwide.
I know people or people who know people who could have been on that train, who just missed it by 30 seconds, who were on the train behind the incident, or who saw the train in the collision go by on the other side of the track. While the metro is no more dangerous than any other form of transportation (the last commuter death was in 1982), it still can be unnerving, especially when it is something so connected to so many of us. The metro is the way that everyone gets around- locals, tourists, rich and poor. If there is one connection, literally and figuratively, between so many of us in DC, it is the metro.
Let us hope that they figure out what went wrong and never let it happen again. My prayers go out to the families of those who died and for the recovery of all those injured.
Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press