Woman Escapes Oncoming Subway Train in Washington

WASHINGTON – A 68-year-old woman who fell onto subway tracks in Washington on Tuesday narrowly escaped an oncoming train by squeezing into a small space underneath a platform, authorities said.

As a train was fast approaching, the woman was trying to get a lift onto the platform, but there wasn't enough time. So Houston police officer Eliot Swainson, who was in town to help out with the record crowds during the inauguration, told the woman to squeeze into the space under the Metrorail platform.

"The train was coming through, it was loud, windy and cold," said Swainson, a 15-year veteran of the Houston Transit Authority Police. "I was just trying to get the situation resolved as quick as possible."

After the train whizzed by the Gallery Place Metro Station, Swainson safely pulled the woman up onto the platform.

The woman, who was not identified by authorities, was traveling with a group of people when she turned to look for a friend and took a slight step backward. She lost her balance and fell onto the tracks, Swainson said.

The woman dislocated her shoulder, Swainson said, but he wasn't sure whether she did so during the fall or when she was trying to get on the platform. Paula Faria, a spokeswoman for Washington Hospital Center, said the woman was treated and released. Faria said the woman was part of a group from Tennessee.

Metro closed the Gallery Place and another station for nearly an hour while authorities investigated. Other trains had to turn around and the closure forced people to walk farther to reach the National Mall.

The transit agency said as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, more than 930,000 passengers had used Metrorail, breaking Monday's record of nearly 887,000.


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