Metro smoke victim thought he was going to die on train

Malbert Rich is one of the victims suing Metro for negligence in the incident

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- A victim in Monday's L'Enfant Metro smoke incident says at one point he was convinced he was going to die, and had written a message to his family to tell them he loved them.

Several victims in the incident at L'Enfant Plaza on Monday have retained attorney Kim Brooks Rodney, who handled two of the death cases that followed the 2009 WMATA crash, to represent them.

"We have been retained by two people, expect that we will be retained by more," shared Rodney.

She says that she has not heard from the family of Carol Glover, who died in the incident.

Rodney says that a lawsuit against Metro alleging negligent maintenance, negligent inspection and negligent response to an emergent situation will be filed on Friday in DC Superior Court. She told reporters that the lawsuit was being filed so soon because "we need to know what happened in that tunnel."

She says that the goal of the lawsuit is to improve the subway system in the D.C. area so that passengers, who put lives in Metro's hands, can be assured that system is safe.

Rodney stated that everyone knows what caused the smoke involved electrical arcing but said that more questions, including why it took so long to get response at the scene, need to be answered by Metro.

"Those people should not have been trapped like rats in a subway car filling with smoke for 40-45 minutes," said Rodney.

Some victims claimed they heard crews at the station having trouble communicating with each other.

During the press conference, Rodney also said she received information that the fare gates at L'Enfant were not lifted up so that people could quickly exit.

"Something broke down and we're going to find out what it is," said Rodney.

According to Rodney, she received a call from woman who says the same station was filled with smoke just days before the incident on Jan. 7.

Rodney introduced Malbert Rich, who just got out of the hospital for injuries related to the L'Enfant Metro station incident. He spoke about his experience at L'Enfant Plaza:

He says that a minute into exiting L'Enfant to go to Pentagon "the train just stopped and the lights just shut off. I guess emergency lights that are much dimmer just came on." Rich said that the conductor tried to pull back to L'Enfant but the train jumped. Then, passengers heard the conductors say that they couldn't move until another car backed up.

Rich claims there was "lots of miscommunication" as smoke made its way into the train.

"With passengers trying to get out, the car became more filled with smoke. After about 10-20 minutes, there was a lot of smoke," he told reporters.

Then, people became frightened. He said some passengers were crying, others were cursing, still others will praying loudly. "There were a lot of people after 20-30 minutes that were having seizures on the train," stated Rich.

He said that at one point he didn't see a way out so he sent a final message to his children and mother to tell them that he loved them. Rich shared, "I told my mother I loved being her son, and I told my kids I loved being their dad."

Once the initial panic subsided, passengers started sharing water. Someone later opened a bottle of wine, said Rich.

When people finally were getting off the train, Rich says no one was pushing each other. He noticed that some people were avoiding going out a certain door. He later realized that a man in a wheelchair was being helped out.

""This was a fantastic job of people helping people, people being courteous to people," said Rich about the other passengers. He called it a story of human kindness.

RELATED STORIES:

Family reacts to Metro smoke death of Carol Glover

Know the dangers of smoke inhalation

Still no answers in L'Enfant Plaza Metro smoke

Metro tragedy victim was federal contractor


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