Firefighters and paramedics responded to the Virginia Square Metro station this afternoon, after a Metro
employee rider had an epileptic seizure and fell onto the trackbed.
Other customers immediately came to the man’s aid and helped him get back up to the platform according to WMATA spokesperson Ron Holzer. An Orange Line train was arriving at the station the time of the incident, but came to a stop before it reached the fallen man. Power to the third rail was turned off shortly after he fell, Holzer said.
The incident happened around 12:15 p.m. When paramedics arrived they applied a neck brace and loaded the victim onto a stretcher, according to scanner reports.
One witness shared this harrowing account of incident in the comments below:
The man was waiting for the Vienna train. He appeared to be mid-twenties, about 200 lbs, wearing a backpack. He appeared disoriented then started toward the tracks. Someone yelled “watch out watch out”. The lights were blinking because the Vienna train was coming. The man stepped out into thin air and fell forward onto the nearest of the two tracks. The track got him right in the ribs, and he lay there.
Some people started yelling “get up get up”, and others ran toward the tunnel exit, waving at the Vienna train to stop. A man in a blue dress shirt on the New Carrollton/Franconia side dropped his papers and jumped into the track bed. The victim was saying “I can’t move” but he slowly got up. Blue dress shirt hopped to the Vienna side just as the victim was getting to his feet. Blue dress shirt was standing behind the victim, bear-hugging him. He was maneuvering the victim toward the platform when the train emerged from the tunnel and came to a stop about 100′ from the where they were.
(The train peeked out of the tunnel by about 30′. I was surprised that the train was able to stop so quickly – apparently the driver responded to the people waving and/or saw the two people on the tracks. There was no screeching of brakes or anything that I noticed – the train appeared to stop pretty comfortably with room to spare.)
Two people who were working on the Vienna-side escalator grabbed an arm each and pulled the victim from the trackbed. Blue dress shirt pulled himself out onto the Vienna platform. The victim was laid down on his back with his head propped up. He was saying “my back my back”. A female metro employee with a walkie-talkie appeared and reported on the situation.
After multiple assurances, the victim stopped panicking and was able to relay a phone number to the metro employee. Blue dress shirt called across for somebody to grab his papers. The man nearest did so, and blue dress shirt crossed back to the New Carrollton/Franconia side. The Franconia train, which had stopped, emerged slowly from the tunnel, parked, and opened its doors to take on passengers. Blue dress shirt boarded the train. He had two knuckles on his right hand that were badly swollen. He guessed that he had accidentally punched the concrete when he grabbed the victim. He said that his plan had been to pull the man beneath the platform as the train pulled up. Luckily we never found out if this plan would have been successful.