- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2002

The Metro train operator who dragged Li J. Yu down the Gallery Place platform when she became trapped in the subway car's doors ignored pleas from passengers to stop the train, Metro officials said yesterday.
The passengers included Barry McDevitt, chief of the Metro Transit Police Department, who heard other passengers screaming that Mrs. Yu was caught in the door. He used the train's intercom to tell the operator, who has since been fired, to stop. The operator, whom Metro would not identify, also ignored commands from Central Control dispatchers to stop the train, officials said.
"I know Barry had notified him. He was in the rear of the car and heard people say the woman was caught in the door," said Fred Goodine, Safety Department director.
Chief McDevitt was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
"The operator was contacted by [Central Control] and asked if he had someone injured," said Ray Feldmann, Metro spokesman.
Mr. Feldmann said that without responding to dispatchers, the train operator continued running the train from Gallery Place to L'Enfant Plaza. The Central Control dispatchers put up a red signal to stop the train at the Waterfront station to get him to stop.
Mr. Feldmann said there was no response from the operator until he asked dispatchers why he had a red signal.
The train operator, who had worked for Metro for 23 years, including 10 years as a train operator, was fired for moving the train with Mrs. Yu stuck in the car door and then ignoring commands from dispatchers and pleas from passengers to stop.
"The train operators' actions were abhorrent," said Ted Williams, an attorney who represents Mrs. Yu. "It goes clearly to the training and supervision given to its train operators, which I find to be suspect."
Mr. Williams met with Metro lawyers yesterday to discuss a settlement, but he said nothing has been resolved.
Metro Board members, who convened yesterday for their regular weekly meeting, instructed General Manager Richard White to pay Mrs. Yu for her medical bills and lost wages, then send the bill to CAF of Madrid, the Spanish firm that manufactured the cars.
Mr. White said he was disappointed that Metro staffers had not been more helpful to Mrs. Yu after her family contacted Metro about a $1,300 hospital bill more than a month ago.
"I am not happy with our slowness to respond," Mr. White said. "My apologies to Mrs. Yu."
Metro has accepted responsibility for the accident on Jan. 9 because a faulty circuit board was found in the door that allowed the train to move with the door ajar.
Mr. Goodine said he is investigating CAF to find out why the company's quality-assurance and quality-control programs did not catch the problem before delivering the car.
Metro has ordered 192 cars from CAF at a cost of $339.5 million. The transit agency aimed to have 18 cars in service when the Green Line expanded a year ago, but it had to accept only four of the cars on a tentative basis in June. Metro has continued to accept the cars since then.
Mr. Goodine said the faulty circuit "made the train believe the door was closed when it wasn't." He said tests showed that the signal on the operator's console showed "all doors closed" when Mrs. Yu was trapped in the doorway.
Mr. Goodine briefed the board about the incident, which was first made public in a Wednesday report in The Washington Times.
Christopher Zimmerman, Metro Board chairman and chairman of the Arlington County Board, said he is concerned that other components on the cars could be defective.
Mr. Goodine said he will not know whether there are flaws in the inspections of the trains by Metro or by CAF until he gets into his investigation, which could take a month to complete.
Lemuel Proctor, chief operating officer for Metrorail, told the board yesterday that the cars are not acceptable. He said he has had repeated problems with the cars' propulsion, dynamic braking and door systems.
"The reliability of the 5000 series cars is less than we desire. It is less than the contract says it will be," Mr. Proctor said.
He said the dynamic braking systems, which are part of the electric motors that help slow the train, are failing mainly because the computer circuits are overheating. He said Metro hopes to modify the trains so that the circuits can be cooled so they don't fail.
He said the majority of the door problems are caused by misaligned doors.
Mr. Proctor said that in January there were 41 incidents where 30 of the 32 5000 series cars failed and had to be taken out of service.
The Times reported Wednesday that Mrs. Yu, 58, of Cheverly became caught in the doors of a 5000 series subway car on Jan. 9.
Mrs. Yu originally had half of her body hanging outside the car and had to start running when the train began moving.
After being dragged along the length of the Gallery Place platform, she worked her body free and fell, hitting her head. Mrs. Yu was hospitalized and still is afraid to ride the subway alone.

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