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Speeches

Closing statement Investigative Hearing into WMATA L'Enfant Plaza event
Christopher A. Hart
Washington, DC
6/24/2015

​ Now that all of the witnesses have testified, this hearing regarding the NTSB investigation into the January 12 accident, involving heavy smoke in a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority tunnel, is concluded.  The record will remain open for additional materials that were requested during the hearing.

On behalf of my fellow Board members and the NTSB staff, I thank each of the witnesses for their testimony, and the parties for their cooperation, not only at this hearing but throughout the investigation.

I also thank the numerous NTSB staff members who worked hard to support this hearing. In the past two days we have added greater clarity to the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident.

The transcript will be made available to the parties and witnesses electronically within 7 days of completion of the hearing. Witnesses or parties should send any corrections to the transcript to the Hearing Officer, Dr. Poland, within 30 days – by July 24, 2015. Participants should send any documents or information that they agreed to furnish during the hearing to the Hearing Officer within 30 days – by July 24, 2015.

The archive of the hearing webcast will remain on the NTSB website for several months after the hearing.

The transcript of the hearing and all of the materials entered into the record will become part of the public docket, along with other records of the investigation, including the additional exhibits that Dr. Poland has enumerated over the last two days.

This hearing has been a very helpful step in our ongoing investigation, allowing us to gain more extensive insight into the infrastructure, planning, culture, and climate that existed at the time of this accident and to help us understand decisions, procedures, and actions. 

Far too often we see a tragedy that was preceded by opportunities missed and warning signs ignored.  By learning how to identify those precursors and perhaps by educating others with what we find in our investigations, hopefully we can break the chain of events to help prevent future accidents.   

It is our hope that this hearing and our subsequent final report will yield recommendations which, if acted upon, will improve safety -- not only for WMATA, but also throughout the passenger rail and rail transit community, which is responsible for moving millions of people every day safely and efficiently.

We stand adjourned.