Metro rescue: Man in wheelchair falls onto tracks

Photo: Kimberly Suiters/WJLA

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - "The Red Line situation is horrible, but this, this is a nightmare," said Verdell Thompson as she looked down on the platform at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station around 1 p.m. on Friday, where a disabled man lay on the ground next to his motorized wheelchair, surrounded by concerned WMATA workers.

The first inconvenience was a Red Line shut down that forced many Metro riders onto buses and alternate routes. But the real nightmare unfolded right before dozens of riders' eyes as they waited for a Green Line train.

"I noticed he was too close to the edge and just as that thought crossed, down he went," said Thompson.

Catherine Emmett watched in horror from the other side of the tracks.

"There was a lot of goodwill. But we were stuck over here. All I could do was push the emergency button," Emmett said.

But before paramedics arrived, five or so Good Samaritans jumped onto the tracks.

Bryan Williams, a government worker, went first. His co-worker, Earl Myers, helped him lift the man, who appeared to have been paralyzed from the waist down. His face sustained the worst injuries.

"He was pretty banged up, but he didn't say anything, just kind of moaned," said Myers.

Myers said lifting the man was relatively easy compared to his several-hundred-pound wheelchair.

"It was gut-wrenching and frightening to watch them work," said Thompson. "I thought for sure they would get killed by the next train."

Williams admitted he did not think about his own safety until it was all over and he boarded the next Green Line train for home.