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2nd Anniversary Of Metro Crash | News

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2nd Anniversary Of Metro Crash
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Under a crowded tent just steps from the Fort Totten Metro Station, dozens of families poured out their emotions Wednesday:  anger, sadness, betrayal, and disbelief.

"I can't believe she's gone," cried Evelyn Fernandez, "because we didn't even get to see her.  We keep thinking maybe she's lost, maybe she survived the crash and is just wandering around." 

Fernandez is helping to raise her 5 siblings after their mother, Ana, died in the Red Line crash June 22, 2009.  She was the only surviving parent they had left.

"I know you are proud of the job that I am doing, but I would give it all up for just a hug," she cried reading a poem she wrote to her mother.

Ana Fernandez and 8 others all lost their lives when two trains collided as they approached the Fort Totten Metro Station.

"Why are we having the memorial here?...she never even made it here?," questioned Carolyn Jenkins mother of Veronica Dubose, "when my granddaughter says 'Where's my mommy?' or my grandson says 'my heart is like an egg that's cracked', yes I'm angry."

Jenkins stirred up emotions in the crowd when she unfurled a poster size picture of her daughter after the crash.  The morgue photograph showed her lifeless face, with an ID tag on top. 

Mayor Vincent Gray promised the victims' families a memorial on their terms.  They want a plaque bearing the names and faces of all 9 victims erected at the New Hampshire Avenue overpass.  The bridge overlooks the crash site, the train never made it into the station.  Relatives have erected a makeshift memorial of posters and pictures on the bridge.

Family members also want a park somewhere between Takoma Park and Fort Totten Stations to be named in honor of the 10 surviving minor children left behind.  "It is our desire that the children we are now raising, because they lost their mothers, have a place to remember their mothers other than the gravesite," said Tawanda Brown mother of Lavonda "Nikki" King.

A bell was tolled for each of the victims.  Following the moments of silence the crowd, carrying roses, followed metro officials and city leaders as they walked to Fort Totten Metro station and there laid a wreath by a plaque bearing the victim's names.

"I don't want anything, I just want her," said Keona King, "I just want my sister."

"You relive the crash all over again," said one survivor who is still has pain and scars from a leg injury.

"There has been no support and there's obviously a need for support," said Kenneth Hawkins who lost his brother Dennis, "there are a lot of families who are hurting."

Meanwhile, Deborah Hersman chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said it was a difficult day for her as well.  She was on the scene just moments after the crash.  The NTSB's scathing report uncovered several system-wide failures in Metro from outdated, unsafe train cars to poor safety training and communication. "It was shocking to see how deep the problems were, " said Hersman, "Metro is making progress but there is a lot of work to do.  They must remain vigilant and proactive and always pay attention to their system and their employees."

Hersman said to date, Metro has fulfilled 3 of the 19 their recommendations.  However, she knows complete compliance will take some time.  The 1,000 series cars, (like the ones involved in the crash), will be replaced by 2013.

DC, Md, and Va invest $50 Million annually toward improving safety on Metro.  But a $150 Million grant from Congress may not be extended next year.

 

Written by Delia Gonçalves
9NEWS NOW & WUSA9.COM

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