Kim Brooks-Rodney, a Partner at Cohen & Cohen, P.C., has been retained by injured victims of the Yellow Line smoke accident in Washington DC. Ms. Brooks-Rodney has a unique background in that she is a former Assistant General Counsel for WMATA. Ms. Brooks-Rodney also represented victims of the 2009 deadly Metro crash.
This tragedy took place on January 12, 2015 in Washington DC, when smoke filled several Yellow Line metro rail subway cars, killing one passenger, and leaving over eighty four (84) people in need of emergency room treatment with some requiring hospitalization. The train was just South of the L’Enfant Plaza metro rail station when the horrific accident occurred. WMATA and the NTSB say that it may be a year before they can fully comprehend what caused the accident, and why it took forty to forty-five minutes for the passengers to be rescued. Kim Brooks- Rodney is particularly familiar with public transportation injury, having represented the loved ones of a couple killed in the 2009 WMATA metro crash.
Currently it is believed that the smoke was caused by electrical arcing, which occurs when an electric current arcs and skips the involved circuit. Sometimes the arced spark may feed itself, growing larger and creating dangerous amounts of smoke. The result of this malfunction may have been smoke filling the trains, making breathing and seeing difficult for passengers. Passengers were instructed to stay on the trains until they could be rescued, with some passengers remaining in cars for an estimated forty-five minutes. Upon exiting, Washington DC EMS and fire services had established a triage on D Street, to examine passengers. Fire and EMS workers reported seeing over two hundred (200) passengers. One woman, 61-year-old Carol Glover, did not survive. Over eighty more were hospitalized, and one fire-fighter was also injured during the rescue. The majority of the hospitalized passengers have now been now treated and released.
Smoke inhalation poses many dangers. Smoke often contains toxic chemical particles, which may irritate the air passages and lungs, and cause what is termed “chemical asphyxiation.” Even when it does not contain such particles, smoke may cause “simple asphyxiation” by occupying lung space and depriving the body of oxygen. In many instances, inhaling smoke can lead to both chemical and simple asphyxiation, as well as chemical and thermal irritation.
Metro passengers and the community deserve answers regarding this tragedy, which resulted in the loss of a life and several hospitalizations. Kim Brooks- Rodney, of Cohen & Cohen P.C. states that, “We hope the investigation by the NTSB and the judicial process can provide answers so that we can strive to improve the safety of public transportation.”
Kim Brooks-Rodney is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and the American University Washington College of Law.
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