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Fenty is expected to make remarks on the red line crash this morning at 8:00 a.m. We’ll be live-blogging the press conference here.
8:01 a.m. Mayor Adrian Fenty, Fire Chief Dennis Rubin, Councilmember Jim Graham step up.
8:02 a.m. Fenty says he wants the country to know that his first efforts are with the families and friends of the victims. 76 people were taken off of the train to the hospital. Yesterday, six were confirmed dead. This morning, the number of confirmed dead is seven. Not nine as previously reported.
8:03 a.m. Fenty says it’s the deadliest crash in the history of WMATA. Two critically injured held stable in the hospital last night. One injured person was updated out of critical last night. Fenty says he’ll begin making next-of-kin notifications today.
8:04 a.m. Heavy equipment came in today to begin cutting through the train. Fenty says that after the machinery comes in they’ll have an updated number of confirmed dead. He hopes it doesn’t rise from the current number, 7.
8:05 a.m. Fenty brings forward Fire Chief Rubin.
8:06 a.m. Rubin says at 5:30 a.m. a crane was able to come in to lift up some of the debris to help “thoroughly check every single space.” Firefighters worked through the night. Brought in dogs to look for survivors underneath the train and in the wooded area near the tracks.
8:07 a.m. Rescue is on hold for now while the trains are moved off the train. There have been two minor firefighter injuries, Rubin says.
8:08 a.m. Police Chief Cathy Lanier gives an update on next-of-kin updates. She says that they will likely be able to be made later today.
8:09 a.m. WMATA chief John Catoe gives his condolences to the families of the driver and the passengers. “We will find out what happened here, what caused this, and put all the resources necessary to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Says his heart goes out to the families of the dead and injured. Says he’s heard comments from around the world about the crash.
8:10 a.m. Data recovery: NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) rep Debbie Hersman says they are making sure they document each step of that so they know the exact condition of the accident scene going forward. Investigators say there were nine data recorders on the train that was struck. The striking train, which hit the standing train, does not have the same level of recorders on it, so they are not expecting to get any data off of that. There are 9 NTSB investigators working on the scene.
8:12 a.m. WMATA operates in “ATO” or “automatic” mode during rush hour—-the time of the crash. Hersman says one team will be looking at the drivers’ records as well as cell phone and texting records to get more info about what they were doing at the time of the scene. There will also be an equipment investigation to see if there was any breakage. There’s also a team looking at the condition of the track for any broken circuits or defects after the trains are moved. Another team will be working to interview survivors about what happened during the crash and how effective WMATA worked post-crash.
8:13 a.m. Hersman begins taking questions.
First question: Expound on the crashworthiness of the train cars. [Mike Debonis is on the crashworthiness question here].
Hersman says that the entire last car on the train was compromised in the crash. She says only that there have been recommendations made about survivability on the trains made to the feds and to WMATA.
Catoe adds in that any crash would compromise part of the car.
Second question: Even if the train was on automatic, shouldn’t there have been some way for the driver to see the train ahead and manually stop it?
Hersman says that they’ll do an investigation of the speeds of the trains and perform a sight-distance test to see whether it would have even been possible for the train’s driver to see the train in front in time to step.
Third question: What is the best-case scenario of getting any recorded information off the 1000-series cars (the older car that hit the train ahead)?
Hersman says they don’t expect to get any information from off that car.
Fourth question: [I missed this one, anyone catch it?]
Fifth question: Basically, if these 1000 series cars have poor crashworthiness and no recording devices, why are they in use?
Hersman says there have been recommendations made that the 1000-series cars are phased out. She says that there have also been recommendations for adding recording devices to those cars before they’re phased out. But she cautions against assuming the cause of this crash.
Fenty says that they will reconvene at 5 p.m. for what he expects to be the final city-led press conference on the crash.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery