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Man kills self by Metro train at Foggy Bottom

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Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Transportation,Kytja Weir

A 52-year-old Northwest D.C. man killed himself by jumping in front of a Metro train at the Foggy Bottom station Thursday afternoon, shortly before Metro officials were slated to discuss their long-delayed plans to prevent a spate of suicides on the system.

The man appears to have intentionally gotten into the path of the inbound Orange Line train about 2:12 p.m., said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. He was pulled from the tracks and transported to George Washington University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Train service was stopped at Foggy Bottom before the evening rush began, and trains shared a single track through the area until 3:46 p.m.

Metro staff whispered the news to each other, and some rushed out, during a presentation about suicide prevention. General Manager Richard Sarles interrupted the meeting to announce the agency had another case.

The suicide was the 61st case of riders intentionally hit by trains since 2005 and the fourth this year, according to Metro. Others have jumped from agency parking garages.

The people represent all races, ethnicities and classes. Metro Center, Columbia Heights and Bethesda have each had three cases since 2005, but otherwise there don't appear to be patterns at stations, according to Metro.

Nearly one-third of people survive getting struck by trains, albeit with massive injuries, according to Metro. A woman who attempted to kill herself at Huntington station over the weekend had her foot amputated.

Even so, Metro board member Tom Downs noted that the cases affect train operators, not just those struck, and can become a life-changing event. Some train operators end their careers with Metro, unable to return to operating trains.

Metro pledged to begin a suicide prevention program in 2009 after a surge in such cases.

But it has been beset by delays, despite $250,000 in funding and an approximately $70,000 report it received last year.

Officials said Thursday that nearly 200 train operators and station managers have been trained to watch and intervene with suicidal riders, though about 760 more need to go through it. Metro plans to have 896 trained by the end of 2012.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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