Metro breaks ground on memorial for 9 crash victims

WASHINGTON (WUSA 9) -- Five years ago Sunday, we witnessed the deadliest crash in Metro Transit history.

Families and city leaders, including the mayor, marked the somber occasion by breaking ground on a memorial park to honor the 9 victims who died and those effected by the deadly crash.

"If there is a way she could hear me, I would let her know how much I miss her and that I'm doing my best so her legacy lives on," said Tawanda Brown mother of Lavonda 'Nikki' King.

She thinks about her daughter Lavonda Nikki King every day. The hairdresser, and mother of two had just fulfilled a dream by opening her own shop a few days before the tragedy that killed her.

"To have her dream come into place and quickly dissolve is hard to know," said Brown.

Monica Cochran lost her sister, Veronica Dubose.

"I miss her tremendously. She was my best friend. I could talk to her about anything," said Cochran.

Sylvia Harris lost her brother Dennis Hawkins.

"I just miss him so much, miss him so much."

Bob Astor lost two relatives that day, Major General David and Ann Wherley.

"They're missed, every family event," said Astor.

The deadliest crash in Metro history killed 9 and injured 80 people when a red line train collided into another near the Fort Totten Metro Station 5 years ago.

Now these families are once again brought together, this time on a more positive note.

The families along with city leaders broke ground on the Legacy Memorial Park on New Hampshire Avenue Northeast near the crash site.

There will be nine sculptured artwork, planted trees and benches to honor the lives lost and the 12 children who lost their parents .

"You never get used to it. It still seems like it happened yesterday. This is something to celebrate but it's difficult. The reality is they are not here," said Cochran.

In the last five years, Metro has improved on safety but some victims' families say more needs to be done. They believe the ill-fated 1000 series cars involved in the accident should have been replaced by now.

"To me it doesn't seem like progress. If you want to make progress you are going to put the new ones in and take the old ones out, " Harris said.

"Eventually all those cars that were involved in the accident will be gone and taken out of the system. But besides that there have been a host of improvements that have been made that will make far less likely the prospect of something like this from reoccurring," said Mayor Gray.

The memorial park is expected to be dedicated by the end of the year.

It will cost just under 2 million dollars.


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