The mystery of a heavy black smoke-filled subway train in Washington, D.C. that resulted in one fatality while 86 Metro passengers, including three in critical condition, were sent to hospitals as more than 200 others were evaluated, was a major underplayed story last week --- with vital questions remaining unanswered, notes Grumpy Editor.
It occurred on the nation’s second busiest subway system. The train was headed toward the Pentagon.
If such an event took place in far-off France, Italy, Japan or Australia it would have nade front-page news in U.S. newspapers.
Initial story on the Monday afternoon incident in the nation’s capital ran only two sentences in some newspapers. (Two Reuters reporters extended their report to six sentences.)
Then during the week, through the weekend, news reports became longer and more detailed. (On Tuesday, two Associated Press writers produced a lengthy story.)
Among some lingering questions:
Why it took emergency workers more than a half-hour to arrive on the scene.
Exact cause of the heavy black smoke. Initial reports said “arcing” on the third rail damaged electrical cables.
Smoke-choking passengers wondered why they weren’t allowed to leave the train sooner for the one or two-minute walk back to a station platform. Instead, they were told to sit and wait.
An early report on the death of the female passenger, 61, was attributed to acute respiratory failure due to smoke exposure. Fellow passengers performed CPR on her before emergency medical workers arrived but she wasn't taken to a hospital until more than an hour after the train began filling with smoke.
The National Transportation Safety Board was reviewing records on maintenance and previous events with smoke, employee training records and Metro's emergency response and evacuation plans.
NTSB said the investigation could take six to 12 months.
FYI, IN CASE YOUR FAVORITE EDITORS MISSED THESE…
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More than just a reporter these days ---
Editors advertising for staffers last week used these terms: Slick city reporter needed at Temple, Texas, Daily Telegram; seeking aggressive reporter, Wisconsin Law Journal; seeking hard-working writer, Kinston (N.C.) Free Press.