Blind woman narrowly escapes death on Metro tracks

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A Red Line train came "within several feet" of striking a blind District woman late Thursday morning after she fell onto the tracks at the Cleveland Park station, officials said.

The 26-year-old woman, whose name is not being released, and her guide dog were waiting for a northbound Red Line train just after 11 a.m. when a train on the opposite side of platform, going toward Glenmont, pulled into the station. When the woman heard the "doors opening" prompt, she mistakenly thought the train was in front of her and stepped off the platform and onto the track bed, officials said.

The woman, still clutching her dog’s leash, tried to scramble back onto the platform as a train approached. The dog, who did not fall, unsuccessfully attempted to pull the woman up from the track bed, officials said.

The train operator, a 31-year veteran whose name is not being released, noticed the woman struggling and slammed on the big emergency brake button — known as the mushroom — and was able to stop the train "within several feet of the woman," officials said.

The woman was helped to the platform by a station supervisor and appeared to be uninjured, officials said.

She refused medical treatment and boarded the next train and continued her commute to the Van Ness station. A station manager followed the womanto ensure she reached her destination, officials said.

The names of people involved in the incident are being withheld as transit officials complete their investigation, officials said.

"The rail operator did his job and was able to avoid a tragic accident," said Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel.

mrupert@dcexaminer.com

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