"I told my mother that I loved being her son. I told my kids I loved being their dad… I didn't see any way of getting out or there."
Rich is now suing Metro, accusing the transit agency of negligence. The lawsuit is expected to be filed in DC Superior Court tomorrow. He said the train's operator and transit police had problems communicating to move a train at the platform so the smoke filled cars could back up.
Attorney Kim Brooks-Rodney believes metro didn't follow proper safety protocol.
"Those people should not have been trapped like rats in a subway car filling with smoke for 40-45 minutes," said Brooks-Rodney.
The incident is the first to involve a passenger death since the red line train crash in 2009, which remains the deadliest in the transit agency's history.
"Every time something happens on metro it always comes back," said Carolyn Jenkins. Her daughter Veronica Dubose is one of the nine who died in that crash.
Jenkins now lives in Culpeper, where she is raising her two grandchildren left behind. She can't help but ask why someone else had to die.
"They got to do something. This can't keep happening. We can't let these kids be without a mother or father," said Jenkins.
Since Veronica's death, her mother has only been on Metro once and says she will never do it again.
"I felt like I was going through what my daughter, everything started closing in on me. It was terrible," she said.
Jenkins doesn't believe metro is safe, especially now after this latest death. She sued Metro but can't discuss the settlement.
Now what is likely to be the first of many lawsuits is set to be filed in the incident at L'Enfant Plaza. Rich and his attorney believe people need to know what went wrong. He's grateful to get out alive but sad one woman did not.
"I feel sorry for her family and her children and our prayers go out to her," said Rich.
His attorney says she has been in contact with 20 other victims who may also join the lawsuit.