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‘I Got Lucky That Day’

Passenger talks of his experience surviving the 2009 Metrorail crash 

PatrickTuite 1Patrick Tuite.   PHOTO COURTESY OF CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY  On really hot days, we might call air conditioning a “lifesaver.” On June 22, 2009, some good air conditioning on a Metro platform actually helped to save Patrick Tuite’s life.

Tuite was a survivor of the horrific Metrorail crash that day that took nine lives, on a Red Line train going from the Takoma to the Fort Totten station. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the accident occurred because a warning system, intended to alert Metrorail operators of stationary trains on the tracks ahead, was not functioning.

Tuite, now 50, was on his way to teach a summer-school night class at Catholic University of America. He was, and still is, a professor at the university’s theater department.

Until the accident, Tuite said he almost always rode near the front of the front car of Metro. “I thought it was safer to sit near the operator,” he explained. “It was also nice to look out the front window with my kids.”

All nine people killed in the crash are believed to have been toward the front of the front car. The front car survivors were toward the rear at the moment of the crash. 

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School teacher escaped Vegas shooting

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Las Vegas shootingSterlind Burke Jr. said he can still hear the gunshots.

On the night of Oct. 1, Burke and his wife, residents of Odenton in Anne Arundel County, were enjoying their third night of a long-awaited trip to Las Vegas, attending the Jason Aldean concert, when they heard a loud “bang” that seemed to come from the stage.

Burke turned to his wife, who he did not wish to name, and told her he thought the sound was from a firework. When the sound repeated several more times in quick succession, Burke and his wife realized they were hearing gunshots.

Eleven days after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, where a gunman killed 58 people and injured 489 others at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Burke said he has trouble sleeping and can still hear the gunshots ring in his head.

“I'm still hearing gunshots in my head on a constant basis,” Burke said.

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Local firefighters help Carolina survivors

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MCFRS task force 3Members of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue task force provided assistance to Hurricane Matthew survivors in the Carolinas. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  

Fifty-four members of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue task force helped out in North Carolina and South Carolina as Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc throughout the area, flooding coastal areas throughout the southeastern United States.

Because much of the area had already been evacuated, the task force didn’t end up rescuing anyone.

Instead, workers drilled and “got comfortable with what they needed to do. We were there if we were needed, and we maximized our time,” said Monte Fitch, a battalion chief in Montgomery County who headed the recent rescue effort.

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