Winter Music Conference, in its 25th consecutive year, is one of the most publicized annual music gatherings in the world. A pivotal platform for advancement of the industry, WMC 2009 attracted 1,910 artists and DJs, 3,228 industry delegates from 62 countries and over 70,000 event attendees for a concentrated schedule of more than 500 events presented across 5 days. Music, as one of the world’s most accessible cultural art forms, gives WMC the unique ability to cross economic, geographic and social boundaries. Over 676,647 visitors from 183 countries (out of 192 in the world) logged on to the WMC website between October 2008 and April 2009.
MORONI (Reuters) – An Airbus A310 from Yemen with more than 150 people on board crashed into choppy seas as it came in to land on the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros on Tuesday, officials said.
French military planes took off from the Indian Ocean islands of Mayotte and Reunion to search for the Yemenia aircraft that was carrying nationals from France and Comoros.
An official from the state carrier said the plane had 142 passengers and 11-crew on board. It was flying from Sanaa to Moroni, the capital of the main island of the Comoros archipelago.
“There is a crash, there is a crash in the sea,” said an unnamed official who answered the phone in the Yemenia office in Moroni before hanging up.
It is the second Airbus to plunge into the sea this month. An Air France Airbus A330-200 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing 228 people on board on June 1.
“Two French military aircraft have left from the island of Mayotte and Reunion to search the identified zone, and a French vessel has left Mayotte,” said Hadji Madi Ali, director General of Moroni International Airport.
In 1996, a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 also crashed into the sea off the Comoros islands in 1996, killing 125 of 175 passengers and crew.
COMING INTO LAND
“The plane has crashed and we still don’t know exactly where. We think it’s in the area of Mitsamiouli,” Comoros Vice-President Idi Nadhoim told Reuters from the airport.
Ibrahim Kassim, a representative from regional air security body ASECNA, said the plane had probably come down 5 to 10 km (3 to 6 miles) from the coast, and civilian and military boats had been mobilized to start searching.
“We think the crash is somewhere along its landing approach,” Kassim told Reuters. “The weather is really not very favorable. The sea is very rough.”
ASECNA — the Agency for Aviation Security and Navigation in Africa and Madagascar — covers Francophone Africa.
The town of Mitsamiouli is on the main island Grande Comore.
Interior Minister Hamid Bourhane told Reuters the army had sent small speedboats to an area between the village of Ntsaoueni and the airport.
“At the moment we don’t have any information about whether there are any survivors,” he told Reuters.
A medical worker in Mitsamiouli said he had been called in.
“They have just called me to come to the hospital. They said a plane had crashed,” he told Reuters.
A United Nations official at the airport, who declined to be named, said the control tower had received notification the plane was coming into land, and then lost contact with it.
Yemenia is 51 percent owned by the Yemeni government and 49 percent owned by the Saudi Arabian government. Its fleet includes two Airbus 330-200s, four Airbus 310-300s and four Boeing 737-800s, according to the company Web site.
The Comoros covers three small volcanic islands, Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli, in the Mozambique channel, 300 km (190 miles) northwest of Madagascar and a similar distance east of the African mainland.
(Additional reporting by Richard Lough in Antananarivo; Inal Ersan in Dubai; David Clarke in Nairobi; Pascal Lietout in Paris; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne and David Clarke; Editing by Jon Hemming)
ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE >> http://www.okmagazine.com/news/view/15290
Lisa Marie Presley, who was married to Michael Jackson in 1994 before divorcing after two years together, has opened up on her MySpace blog about her ex-husband’s early demise. She writes that MJ once told her he was afraid of dying like her father, Elvis Presley.
Lisa Marie’s full blog reads as follows:
June 26, 2009
Years ago Michael and I were having a deep conversation about life in general. I can’t recall the exact subject matter but he may have been questioning me about the circumstances of my Fathers Death.
At some point he paused, he stared at me very intensely and he stated with an almost calm certainty, “I am afraid that I am going to end up like him, the way he did.”
I promptly tried to deter him from the idea, at which point he just shrugged his shoulders and nodded almost matter of fact as if to let me know, he knew what he knew and that was kind of that.
14 years later I am sitting here watching on the news an ambulance leaves the driveway of his home, the big gates, the crowds outside the gates, the coverage, the crowds outside the hospital, the Cause of death and what may have led up to it and the memory of this conversation hit me, as did the unstoppable tears.
A predicted ending by him, by loved ones and by me, but what I didn’t predict was how much it was going to hurt when it finally happened.
The person I failed to help is being transferred right now to the LA County Coroners office for his Autopsy.
All of my indifference and detachment that I worked so hard to achieve over the years has just gone into the bowels of hell and right now I am gutted.
I am going to say now what I have never said before because I want the truth out there for once.
Our relationship was not “a sham” as is being reported in the press. It was an unusual relationship yes, where two unusual people who did not live or know a “Normal life” found a connection, perhaps with some suspect timing on his part. Nonetheless, I do believe he loved me as much as he could love anyone and I loved him very much.
I wanted to “save him” I wanted to save him from the inevitable which is what has just happened.
His family and his loved ones also wanted to save him from this as well but didn’t know how and this was 14 years ago. We all worried that this would be the outcome then.
At that time, In trying to save him, I almost lost myself.
He was an incredibly dynamic force and power that was not to be underestimated.
When he used it for something good, It was the best and when he used it for something bad, It was really, REALLY bad.
Mediocrity was not a concept that would even for a second enter Michael Jackson’s being or actions.
I became very ill and emotionally/ spiritually exhausted in my quest to save him from certain self-destructive behavior and from the awful vampires and leeches he would always manage to magnetize around him.
I was in over my head while trying.
I had my children to care for, I had to make a decision.
The hardest decision I have ever had to make, which was to walk away and let his fate have him, even though I desperately loved him and tried to stop or reverse it somehow.
After the Divorce, I spent a few years obsessing about him and what I could have done different, in regret.
Then I spent some angry years at the whole situation.
At some point, I truly became Indifferent, until now.
As I sit here overwhelmed with sadness, reflection and confusion at what was my biggest failure to date, watching on the news almost play by play The exact Scenario I saw happen on August 16th, 1977 happening again right now with Michael (A sight I never wanted to see again) just as he predicted, I am truly, truly gutted.
Any ill experience or words I have felt towards him in the past has just died inside of me along with him.
He was an amazing person and I am lucky to have gotten as close to him as I did and to have had the many experiences and years that we had together.
I desperately hope that he can be relieved from his pain, pressure and turmoil now.
He deserves to be free from all of that and I hope he is in a better place or will be.
I also hope that anyone else who feels they have failed to help him can be set free because he hopefully finally is.
The World is in shock but somehow he knew exactly how his fate would be played out some day more than anyone else knew, and he was right.
I really needed to say this right now, thanks for listening.
LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop” who once moonwalked above the music world, died Thursday as he prepared for a comeback bid to vanquish nightmare years of sexual scandal and financial calamity. He was 50.
Jackson died at UCLA Medical Center after being stricken at his rented home in Holmby Hills. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him at his home for nearly three-quarters of an hour, then rushed him to the hospital, where doctors continued to work on him.
“It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However, the cause of his death is unknown until results of the autopsy are known,” his brother Jermaine said. Police said they were investigating, standard procedure in high-profile cases.
Jackson’s death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music’s premier all-around performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.
His 1982 album “Thriller” which included the blockbuster hits “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Thriller” is the best-selling album of all time, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide.
At the time of his death, Jackson was rehearsing hard for what was to be his greatest comeback: He was scheduled for an unprecedented 50 shows at a London arena, with the first set for July 13.
As word of his death spread, MTV switched its programming to play videos from Jackson’s heyday. Radio stations began playing marathons of his hits. Hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital. In New York’s Times Square, a low groan went up in the crowd when a screen flashed that Jackson had died, and people began relaying the news to friends by cell phone.
“No joke. King of Pop is no more. Wow,” Michael Harris, 36, of New York City, read from a text message a friend had sent him. “It’s like when Kennedy was assassinated. I will always remember being in Times Square when Michael Jackson died.”
The public first knew him as a boy in the late 1960s, when he was the precocious, spinning lead singer of the Jackson 5, the singing group he formed with his four older brothers out of Gary, Ind. Among their No. 1 hits were “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “I’ll Be There.”
He was perhaps the most exciting performer of his generation, known for his backward-gliding moonwalk, his feverish, crotch-grabbing dance moves and his high-pitched singing, punctuated with squeals and titters. His single sequined glove, tight, military-style jacket and aviator sunglasses were trademarks, as was his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance.
“For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don’t have the words,” said Quincy Jones, who produced “Thriller.” “He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I’ve lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him.”
Jackson ranked alongside Elvis Presley and the Beatles as the biggest pop sensations of all time. He united two of music’s biggest names when he was briefly married to Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie, and Jackson’s death immediately evoked comparisons to that of Presley himself, who died at age 42 in 1977.
As years went by, Jackson became an increasingly freakish figure a middle-aged man-child weirdly out of touch with grown-up life. His skin became lighter, his nose narrower, and he spoke in a breathy, girlish voice. He often wore a germ mask while traveling, kept a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles as one of his closest companions, and surrounded himself with children at his Neverland ranch, a storybook playland filled with toys, rides and animals. The tabloids dubbed him “Wacko Jacko.”
“It seemed to me that his internal essence was at war with the norms of the world. It’s as if he was trying to defy gravity,” said Michael Levine, a Hollywood publicist who represented Jackson in the early 1990s. He called Jackson a “disciple of P.T. Barnum” and said the star appeared fragile at the time but was “much more cunning and shrewd about the industry than anyone knew.”
Jackson caused a furor in 2002 when he playfully dangled his infant son, Prince Michael II, over a hotel balcony in Berlin while a throng of fans watched from below.
In 2005, he was cleared of charges he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor at Neverland in 2003. He had been accused of plying the boy with alcohol and groping him, and of engaging in strange and inappropriate behavior with other children.
The case followed years of rumors about Jackson and young boys. In a TV documentary, he acknowledged sharing his bed with children, a practice he described as sweet and not at all sexual.
Despite the acquittal, the lurid allegations that came out in court took a fearsome toll on his career and image, and he fell into serious financial trouble.
Michael Joseph Jackson was born Aug. 29, 1958, in Gary. He was 4 years old when he began singing with his brothers Marlon, Jermaine, Jackie and Tito in the Jackson 5. After his early success with bubblegum soul, he struck out on his own, generating innovative, explosive, unstoppable music.
The album “Thriller” alone mixed the dark, serpentine bass and drums and synthesizer approach of “Billie Jean,” the grinding Eddie Van Halen solo on “Beat It,” and the hiccups and falsettos on “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”
The peak may have come in 1983, when Motown celebrated its 25th anniversary with an all-star televised concert and Jackson moonwalked off with the show, joining his brothers for a medley of old hits and then leaving them behind with a pointing, crouching, high-kicking, splay-footed, crotch-grabbing run through “Billie Jean.”
The audience stood and roared. Jackson raised his fist.
By then he had cemented his place in pop culture. He got the plum Scarecrow role in the 1978 movie musical “The Wiz,” a pop-R&B version of “The Wizard of Oz,” that starred Diana Ross as Dorothy.
During production of a 1984 Pepsi commercial, Jackson’s scalp sustains burns when an explosion sets his hair on fire.
He had strong follow-up albums with 1987’s “Bad” and 1991’s “Dangerous,” but his career began to collapse in 1993 after he was accused of molesting a boy who often stayed at his home. The singer denied any wrongdoing, reached a settlement with the boy’s family, reported to be $20 million, and criminal charges were never filed.
Jackson’s expressed anger over the allegations on the 1995 album “HIStory,” which sold more than 2.4 million copies, but by then, the popularity of Jackson’s music was clearly waning, even as public fascination with his increasingly erratic behavior was growing.
Cardiac arrest is an abnormal heart rhythm that stops the heart from pumping blood to the body. It can occur after a heart attack or be caused by other heart problems.
Billboard magazine editorial director Bill Werde said Jackson’s star power was unmatched. “The world just lost the biggest pop star in history, no matter how you cut it,” Werde said. “He’s literally the king of pop.”
Jackson’s 13 No. 1 one hits on the Billboard charts put him behind only Presley, the Beatles and Mariah Carey, Werde said.
“He was on the eve of potentially redeeming his career a little bit,” he said. “People might have started to think of him again in a different light.”
By LYNN ELBER, AP Television Writer
LOS ANGELES – When Johnny Carson ruled as king of late-night TV, Ed McMahon was the prince of second bananas.
McMahon’s great talent as Carson’s “Tonight Show” sidekick was reacting to his every joke, every double-take and every skit as if he’d never heard or seen anything funnier.
His implausibly hearty laugh buoyed Carson even when his comedy fell flat, which could happen to the best of talk show hosts, and encouraged the audience to believe they were always at the right party.
Viewers wanted to do what Ed was doing: sit next to Johnny and be his good buddy, at least for an hour or so.
Each night brought the familiar, booming introduction, rooted in McMahon’s days as an eager young hawker at carnivals and state fairs.
“And now h-e-e-e-e-e-ere’s Johnny!” McMahon shouted out in his rich announcer’s voice, followed by a slight but unmistakable bow toward Carson.
Sure, he was kowtowing — but to a really cool boss.
McMahon died shortly after midnight Tuesday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center surrounded by his wife, Pam, and other family members, said his publicist, Howard Bragman. He was 86.
Bragman didn’t give a cause of death, saying only that McMahon had a “multitude of health problems the last few months.”
McMahon broke his neck in a fall in March 2007, and battled a series of financial problems as his injuries prevented him from working.
Doc Severinsen, “Tonight” bandleader during the Carson era, remembered McMahon as a man “full of life and joy and celebration.”
“He will be sorely missed. He was one of the greats in show business, but most of all he was a gentleman. I miss my friend,” Severinsen said in a statement.
David Letterman paid tribute to McMahon as a “true broadcaster” and key part of Carson’s show.
“Ed McMahon’s voice at 11:30 was a signal that something great was about to happen. Ed’s introduction of Johnny was a classic broadcasting ritual — reassuring and exciting,” Letterman said, adding, “We will miss him.”
McMahon became emblematic of his breed and a comedy favorite. The boisterous Hank “Hey Now!” Kingsley on the HBO comedy “The Larry Sanders Show” was clearly patterned on McMahon, while Phil Hartman channeled him opposite Dana Carvey’s Johnny Carson on “Saturday Night Live.”
Carson knew he had picked the right sideman. He kept McMahon on board for all of his three decades on “Tonight” and the two worked together for nearly five years before that, on the game show “Who Do You Trust?”
The contrast between the men worked for comedy. Carson was drolly sophisticated, while McMahon had a good-humored everyman air. McMahon’s solid 6-foot-4 frame gave him size advantage over the slender, shorter Carson, making McMahon’s guffaws seem more a gift than a duty.
That regular-guy persona helped as McMahon vigorously marketed himself and secured his place in pop culture beyond “Tonight.”
He bounced from one TV genre to the next, appearing on game shows, variety shows, sitcoms and more. There he was, on “The Hollywood Squares,” on “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour,” on “Hee Haw,” on “Full House.”
There were even a handful of movie roles — supporting ones, of course.
McMahon probably came closest to center stage as host of “Star Search,” which debuted in the early ’80s — well before the current age of the acidic talent show judge — and his trademark bonhomie held the spotlight.
The commercials he and Dick Clark made for the American Family Publishers’ sweepstakes, with their smiling faces on contest entry forms, added to McMahon’s ubiquity. He also was a longtime co-host of Jerry Lewis’ annual muscular dystrophy telethon.
His final years brought unhappier attention.
McMahon took a fall in 2007 and suffered a broken neck. His health prevented him from working when he was beset by financial woes and his Beverly Hills house was on the brink of foreclosure.
The situation was dire, but McMahon tried to turn it around. He spoofed himself with a 2008 Super Bowl ad for a cash-for-gold business (“H-e-e-e-e-e-ere’s money!”) and online rap videos for a credit report Web site.
McMahon, the ever-stalwart second banana, kept the laughter going.
(This version CORRECTS spelling to Severinsen.)
By Barbara Barrett, McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama , who still struggles with his own addiction to cigarettes, on Monday signed into law the most sweeping federal anti-tobacco legislation to pass Congress in decades.
The law gives the Food and Drug Administration broad authority to regulate the marketing and manufacture of tobacco products. It bans fruit- and spice-flavored cigarettes, slaps expansive new warnings on packages and gets rid of the monikers “light” and “low-tar.”
It also allows the FDA to order manufacturers to reduce — though not eliminate — the amount of the addictive chemical nicotine that’s in cigarettes.
With children onstage and sprinkled in the audience at the Rose Garden ceremony, and with the new playground for the presidential daughters in the distance, Obama said that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act would curtail the “constant, insidious” advertising that tobacco companies targeted at children.
He pointed out that nearly 90 percent of smokers start before age 18.
“I know; I was one of those teenagers,” Obama said in his speech. “I know how hard it is to break the habit once you’ve started.”
Tobacco-related diseases cost an estimated $100 billion a year to treat and kill nearly 400,000 Americans annually.
” FDA oversight over tobacco products will fundamentally change the entire tobacco industry and will save countless lives in the decades to come,” said Stephen J. Nolan , the chairman of the American Lung Association’s board of directors.
Among those at the White House on Monday was Rep. G.K. Butterfield , a Democrat from Wilson, N.C. , where auctioneers used to rattle off leaf prices after harvest each fall. He represents one of the heaviest tobacco-farming districts in the nation.
“This has been a very difficult issue for me,” Butterfield said. “But when I take a step back and look at it objectively, there’s no question we need to reduce smoking. . . . We need to be realistic about the issue.”
Also present was Rep. Henry Waxman , D- Calif. , one of the measure’s primary proponents, but another prominent backer, Sen. Edward Kennedy , D- Mass. , who’s undergoing treatment for brain cancer, was not.
“Decade after decade, Big Tobacco has seduced millions of teenagers into lifetimes of addiction and premature death,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Enactment of this legislation will finally put a stop to that. It is truly a lifesaving act, and a welcome demonstration that this Congress is capable of enacting major health reform.”
Tobacco companies spent millions opposing the bill, though the country’s top tobacco company, Altria , the owner of Philip Morris of Virginia , supported it in what opponents labeled a cynical move to use the measure’s restrictions on advertising to maintain the market dominance of Philip Morris’ leading brand, Marlboro .
In a sign of tobacco’s waning power, however, the legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, even as a Gallup Poll released Monday found that 52 percent opposed the law, while 46 percent approved. The telephone survey was conducted June 14-17 and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Sens. Richard Burr , a Republican, and Kay Hagan , a Democrat, both of North Carolina , fought the legislation fiercely.
Burr, whose hometown of Winston-Salem is the headquarters for the Reynolds American tobacco company, stretched debate on the Senate floor to nearly two weeks in an effort to slow the bill. He argued that the FDA was ill-equipped to handle new regulatory duties.
Hagan, whose hometown of Greensboro is home to the Lorillard tobacco company, was the only Democrat in the Senate who voted against the bill. She argued that it would cost manufacturing jobs and hurt tobacco farmers.
Obama and other supporters said that the law was a victory over the deceit and power of tobacco companies’ lobby on Capitol Hill .
“Since at least the middle of the last century, we’ve known about the harmful and often deadly effects of tobacco products,” the president said.
Earlier this month, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs acknowledged that the president continues his personal fight against cigarettes. However, Obama ignored a question from the press gallery Monday as he was shaking visitors’ hands after the ceremony.
“Mr. President, how difficult has your struggle been with smoking?” CNN’s Dan Lothian asked.
Obama glanced up, then turned away.
MORE FROM MCCLATCHY
House gives final congressional approval to FDA regulation of tobacco
Senators who opposed tobacco bill received top dollar from industry
Senate approves FDA regulation of tobacco products
Follow the latest politics news at McClatchy’s Planet Washington
By BRETT ZONGKER and MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writers
WASHINGTON – One Metro transit train smashed into the rear of another at the height of the capital city’s Monday evening rush hour, killing at least six people and injuring scores of others as the front end of the trailing train jackknifed violently into the air and fell atop the first.
Cars of both trains were ripped open and smashed together in the worst accident in the Metrorail system’s 33-year history. District of Columbia fire spokesman Alan Etter said crews had to cut some people out of what he described as a “mass casualty event.” Rescue workers propped steel ladders up to the upper train cars to help survivors scramble to safety. Seats from the smashed cars spilled out onto the track.
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty said six were confirmed dead. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin said rescue workers treated 76 people at the scene and sent some of them to local hospitals, six with critical injuries. A search for further victims continued into the night.
A Metro official said the dead included the female operator of the trailing train. Her name was not immediately released.
The crash around 5 p.m. EDT took place on the system’s red line, Metro’s busiest, which runs below ground for much of its length but is at ground level at the accident site near the Maryland border in northeast Washington.
Metro chief John Catoe said the first train was stopped on the tracks, waiting for another to clear the station ahead, when the trailing train, one of the oldest in the Metro fleet, plowed into it from behind.
Officials had no explanation for the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board took charge of the investigation and sent a team to the site. DC police and the FBI also had investigators at the scene to help search the wreckage for any overlooked injured or dead passengers and evidence.
Each train had six cars and was capable of holding as many as 1,200 people. Safety Board member Debbie Hersman said the trains were bound for downtown. That would mean they were less likely to be filled during the afternoon rush hour.
The trains had pulled out of the Takoma Park station and were headed in the direction of the Fort Totten station.
More than 200 firefighters from D.C., Maryland and Virginia eventually converged on the scene. Sabrina Webber, a 45-year-old real estate agent who lives in the neighborhood, said the first rescuers to arrive had to use the “jaws of life” to pry open a wire fence along rail line to get to the train.
Webber raced to the scene after hearing a loud boom like a “thunder crash” and then sirens. She said there was no panic among the survivors.
Passenger Jodie Wickett, a nurse, told CNN she was seated on one train, sending text messages on her phone, when she felt the impact. She said she sent a message to someone that it felt like the train had hit a bump.
“From that point on, it happened so fast, I flew out of the seat and hit my head.” Wickett said she stayed at the scene and tried to help. She said “people are just in very bad shape.”
“The people that were hurt, the ones that could speak, were calling back as we called out to them,” she said. “Lots of people were upset and crying, but there were no screams.”
One man said he was riding a bicycle across a bridge over the Metro tracks when the sound of the crash got his attention.
“I didn’t see any panic,” Barry Student said. “The whole situation was so surreal.”
At Howard University Hospital, Dr. Johnnie Ford, an emergency room doctor, said a 14-year-old girl suffered two broken legs in the accident. A 20-year-old male patient “looked like he had been tumbled around quite a bit, bumps and bruises from head to toe,” Ford said.
Homeland Security Department spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said less than two hours after the crash that federal authorities had no indication of any terrorism connection.
“I don’t know the reason for this accident,” Metro’s Catoe said. “I would still say the system is safe, but we’ve had an incident.”
Monday’s crash was the third major subway or commuter rail crash in a big city in the past nine months. In the earlier accidents:
• In September 2008, a commuter rail train and a freight train crashed in Los Angeles, killing 25 people. The crash was blamed on an engineer on the commuter rail sending text messages on a cell phone.
• Last month about 50 people were injured in Boston when one trolley rear-ended another. The conductor admitted to sending a text message when the crash occurred.
No reason was given for the Washington crash, but some safety experts are concerned about the recent increase.
“I’m not sure if everyone in the safety system is paying the proper attention that needs to be paid,” said Barry Sweedler, a San Francisco-based safety consultant and former investigator and manager at the National Transportation Safety Board. “These things shouldn’t be happening.”
However, Robert Lauby, a former NTSB rail investigator, said the increase in accidents could well be mere coincidence.
“Just because you had them doesn’t mean there’s a specific issue that caused them,” Lauby said.
The only other time in Metrorail’s 33-year history that there were passenger fatalities was on Jan. 13, 1982, when three people died as a result of a derailment underneath downtown. That was a day of disaster in the capital — shortly before the subway crash, an Air Florida plane slammed into the 14th Street Bridge immediately after takeoff in a severe snowstorm from Washington National Airport across the Potomac River. The plane crash killed 78 people.
Associated Press Writers Brett J. Blackledge, Eileen Sullivan, Richard Lardner, Jim Kuhnhenn and Seth Borenstein in Washington and AP researcher Judith Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report.