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Metro marks first anniversary of deadly crash

Tuesday - 6/22/2010, 3:04pm  ET

AP: 095fc3ee-aed9-41d3-b3e5-78a6465e7379
Lena McMillan, left, cries with Armani McMillan, during a tribute to Jeanice McMillan, who was the operator of the June 22, 2009 fatal Metro train crash, during a memorial held by Metro on the first anniversary of the crash, Tuesday, June 22, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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WASHINGTON - Family and friends of those killed in Metrorail's deadliest crash gathered to remember their loved ones on the first anniversary of the tragedy.

Metro marked the day with a ceremony Tuesday at the Fort Totten station and the dedication of a bronze plaque bearing the names of the nine people killed.

Train operator Jeanice McMillan was honored as a hero. She is credited with saving many lives in her last moments by slamming on the train's brakes.

The most poignant moment of the service came when McMillan's 20-year-old son, Jordan, stepped up to address the crowd of hundreds that gathered not far from the Fort Totten station.

"It's real nice to see everyone come together," said McMillan, choking up. "This was not supposed to happen. We are not supposed to be here right now. But we are. My mother was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I love her for that."

McMillan promised to take care of his family members that are now without Jeanice McMillan.

"I promise everybody that, and that's my word."

City, state, and federal leaders attended the ceremony, which also honored the 80 people who were injured and the emergency responders who were on the scene.

The crash occurred on the Red Line between the Takoma and Fort Totten rail stations as an inbound Metro train smashed into the back of another at the height of the evening rush hour on June 22, 2009.

The crash -- a heart-wrenching moment for the entire region -- changed the habits of many who ride the subway. It also prompted much scrutiny of Metro's safety record.

Metro General Manager Richard Sarles says the greatest tribute the agency can offer is to rededicate itself to safety.

"Metro will do everything it can to prevent a tragedy such as this from ever happening again. That is our solemn promise," Sarles said.

After the ceremony, a bronze plaque was unveiled with the names of the nine who died on June 22, 2009.

  • Jeanice McMillan, 42
  • Veronica DuBose, 29
  • Ana Fernandez, 30
  • LaVonda "Nikki" King, 23
  • Ret. Maj. Gen. David F. Wherley Jr., 62
  • Ann Wherley, 62
  • Dennis Hawkins, 64
  • Mary Doolittle, 59
  • Cameron Williams, 37

The transit agency observed a moment of silence in all Metro stations, rail yards, bus facilities and Metro administrative offices at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board will issue its final report on the cause of the crash late next month.

WTOP invites you to leave your memories of those who died and your feelings about the crash on the message board on the left.

WTOP's Adam Tuss contributed to this report. Follow Adam on Twitter.

(Copyright 2010 by WTOP and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)