- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Two veteran Metro workers were struck and killed by a maintenance truck on a track Tuesday, the latest in a string of fatalities since last year in the Washington area’s transit system.

Jeff Garrard, 49, and Sung Oh, 68, were installing safety equipment on a track that was closed to regular service for the night when they were hit. One of them died at the scene, a few blocks from the Rockville Metro Station, and the other on the way to a hospital.

Metro says both men lived in Montgomery County and were automatic-train-control technicians. They were hit by a large truck equipped to drive on the track when electricity is shut down.

Mr. Garrard, of Clarksburg, had worked for Metro since 1990, and Mr. Oh had worked there since 1998. The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into the accident.

The Metro system, which extends into the suburbs to link the capital with neighboring areas of Maryland and Virginia, has seen a series of fatal accidents and mishaps since last year. The worst was a June crash that killed eight passengers and the train operator. Two other workers were killed in separate accidents last year.

Last month, a team of inspectors was nearly hit by a train that Metro officials say was traveling too fast. Three workers were hurt in November when a train returning to a northern Virginia rail yard hit a parked train.

The latest accident came about two weeks after Metro held a three-day workshop on track safety with experts from around the country.

“We have intensified safety — there’s no question about it, partly in light of the deaths of the two employees,” Metro board chairman Jim Graham told WTOP radio Tuesday. “There’s a lot that’s been put into this, but something went terribly wrong this morning.”

Jackie L. Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents Metro workers, urged the transit agency to take steps to ensure the safety of workers and riders.

Tuesday’s deaths occurred at about 1:45 a.m. The accident disrupted the morning rush for many commuters from Maryland as Red Line service was shut down between the Shady Grove and Twinbrook stations while the crash was investigated. Shuttle service was being provided between the stations.

The employees who were killed were installing new automatic-train-control equipment in the track bed. A failure in the automatic-train-control system, which detects the presence of a train on the track, is believed to have contributed to the June crash. However, Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said the work being done Tuesday was routine maintenance.

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