Families of victims in deadly Metro Red Line crash gather on 7th anniversary

- It has been seven years since one of the deadliest crashes in Metro's history. On June 22, 2009, two Metro trains collided into each other killing eight passengers and a train operator while dozens more were injured.

On Wednesday, some of the victim's families are grading the transit system and its progress.

The loved ones left behind did not give Metro a break and very few of them handed out a passing grade. Seven years after the deadly crash, family members said what we all know – Metro is riddled with issues and more work lies ahead.

“They are shutting down Metro to make the improvements, but it's a little too late for me,” said Tawanda Brown. “It should have been done then.”

Brown and several families filled Legacy Memorial Park in Northeast D.C. They share the painful memory of their loved ones’ deaths each day and Wednesday was no exception.

Roses, pictures and heartbreak filled the park, which is near the crash site where their loved ones were killed.

“Angry that the changes didn't come sooner when they had over 100 deficiencies,” Brown told FOX 5.

She said it was 5:02 p.m. on June 22, 2009 when her daughter Lavonda King, seven other passengers and the train operator died on board the Red Line train. It slammed into the back of a stopped train near the Fort Totten Metro station.

“The message is – never politics over people,” Brown said. “It should always be people over the problem.”

Trapped riders could be seen escaping.

At the time, electronic failures were to blame.

“Fix the problem and the people will ride the Metro,” said Brown.

In the 2009 crash, sensors created to prevent the deadly collision reportedly failed.

“I was expecting something to happen much sooner, but I am pleased today with the effort that they are putting forward,” said Brown.

“She was a hardworking woman, she was very devoted to her job, to her spiritual life,” said Evelin Fernandez.

Her mother, Ana, was also killed in the collision.

When asked what grade she would give Metro, Fernandez responded, “An E. I would give them an E. Nothing has changed.”

Fernandez’s harsh criticism comes on the heels of explosions, rolling shutdowns and amid Metro’s SafeTrack surge this week, which is impacting three lines on the rail system.

“I feel like as the years have gone by, everything seems to get worse,” said Fernandez.
               
Brown was more forgiving.

“In the seven years that the accident has occurred, [Paul Wiedefeld] is the first general manager that has been aggressive enough to shut down Metro and to make sure that changes are being made,” she said.

Brown's daughter left behind two sons while Fernandez's mother left behind six children.

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