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Riders briefly trapped in Cheverly station

Mark Berman

From the archives: It's 1 a.m. and you're trapped in a Metro station

Original post: Monday was a pretty strange day for Denise Sudell. She started by accidentally leaving her new suit jacket on the Metro in the morning. Then her arm got stuck in the elevator door at her office building. But at the end of her commute home after a very long day, there was one quirk left to face: she was locked inside a Metro station.

Sudell had taken the Orange Line train heading to New Carrolton. When she got off at the Cheverly station at about 12:50 a.m., she and another commuter discovered that the train manager had already locked up for the night -- before the last train had dropped off its final passengers.

"I was more or less nonplussed," said Sudell, 53, a senior policy adviser at the Labor Department. "I've lived in the DC area for over 20 years, and I've never encountered this before."

She tried to call the Metro number, but a series of automated prompts eventually led to a message telling her to call back during normal business hours. She called 911, but her fellow passenger was already on the phone with the Prince George's County police. So Sudell handled it a different way: she took out her iPhone and posted the news to Facebook.

"It was extremely helpful to have my smartphone," she said. "If this had been 10 years ago, I think I would have been a lot more freaked out, because I was looking around the station and realizing there are no phones there."

A man in a Metro T-shirt and hat came up from the station platform below at about 1:15 a.m. and let them out.

"He said several times, 'The station manager is going to be taking an unexpected vacation,'" she said. (UPDATE at 10:25 a.m: Sudell wasn't sure how the man learned of the situation. He told them he had been dispatched by "central downtown.")

She has no second thoughts about taking the train to work this morning.

"This was a fluke," she said. "I cannot imagine what that station manager could have been thinking."

Sudell said she'd have been more freaked out had the train been underground. The main issue for her was how hot it was on the mezzanine. As it is, she seemed pretty nonchalant recalling it several hours later.

"It just seemed like, 'Oh golly, here we are, another Washington story,'" she said.

A Metro spokeswoman said this morning that the agency would review the matter and get back to The Post today with more details.

-- Mark Berman

June 30, Noon Update: D.C.'s Fox5 aired this interview with Denise Sudell.

By Mark Berman  | June 29, 2010; 7:25 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  cheverly metro station, wmata  
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Next: Anti-terrorism drill on Metrorail


So they were inconvenienced for 15 minutes. Big f__king deal.

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | June 29, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Why are there two pictures of Mr. Berman?

Posted by: subwayguy | June 29, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Reply To: RepealObamacareNow,How would she know how long it would take for someone to get her out? I am sure you would complain if that would have happened to you too, stop being a donkey's behind, it was Late, HOT and not knowing when assistance would come, you should your name from RepealObamacareNow to JerkOneNow!!

Posted by: onesugar | June 29, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I agree onesuger! That statment was only made because it was the Cheverly station, had that happened @ the Rockville station his comment would have been totally different. They would have been picketing to get rid of the station manger now! lol

Posted by: dshannon8455 | June 29, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Hindsight is great, RepealObamacareNow. Not that I'd want to be locked in for any length of time. Perhaps we need math reform--locked in at 12:50 and let out at 1:15 is 25 minutes, not 15. :-)

Posted by: ellietteinmd | June 29, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Yet another sterling example of Metro's complete incompetence.

Who was it asked if the Post was being "too hard" on Metro?

Posted by: WashingtonDame | June 29, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

How did posting to Facebook help? How did the fellow in the Metro t-shirt/hat happen upon them?

Posted by: rallycap | June 29, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Metro can raise the fares again to pay overtime so station managers won't leave before all of the passengers have left the station. A "last train home" fee, yeah, that's the ticket.

Posted by: kbockl | June 29, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

There. I changed it. It's still a big F'ing deal. Nya. Nya.

Posted by: JerkOneNow | June 29, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I only have a glancing familiarity with Facebook so I'm wondering exactly what all this entailed. Did she like change her status: Currently trapped in a locked Metro station - ? Does Metro have a Facebook site that she could befriend? Leave a message on someone else's Facebook page - "send HELP!" - ?
How does this work? Should I be on Facebook just in case I ever get trapped on Metro?

Posted by: hohandy | June 29, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"This was a fluke," she said. "I cannot imagine what that station manager could have been thinking."

Actually, its not a fluke. Its the culture of an organization that cannot fire anyone for anything. Metro employees are not held accountable for their actions. While this instance was considered by this passenger to be an inconvenience, Metro culture (i.e a culture that allows a manager to leave before the last train) has resulted in the deaths of several other passengers and employees in the last year.

Posted by: 123cartoon | June 29, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse


Go comment; I couldn't have said it better myself. FaceBook??!!?? REALLY??!!?? Talk about living your whole life out on the computer/in the Net...while a I rcognize that it may (or may not) have helped, a DIRECT phone call to a friend or relative could have had the exact same effect.

Posted by: jsabol | June 29, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm a little confused as to the relevance of the Facebook thing. This is kind of like titling the article "Woman Clips Toenails, Balances Checkbook While Stuck in Station" She has a smartphone. YAY! Hooray for iDrones everywhere!!

Posted by: pswift00 | June 29, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey RepealObamaCareNow.... Since when is 12:50 to 1:15, 15 minutes?? Guess math isn't your strong suit -- apparently compassion isn't either....

Posted by: anon57 | June 29, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Metro will at least give them some free farecards for the inconvenience and scary experience. But I wonder, how long after the train had left did they linger around? Did the station manager give ample enough time for travelers to leave the station? Aren't there cameras to view the platforms for the manager to know people were still in the station? Did the manager leave before the train got there? I would have been horrified being stuck in a station.

Posted by: wisepat | June 29, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

It's no fluke. This happened to me and about 7 others on Super Bowl Sunday at Fort Totten. The station manager's box was unlocked so we huddled in there to stay warm and called metro central control on the phone in there. After about 30 minutes 4 metro employees and a metro transit police officer showed up. The metro employees were rude, but the transit police officer said it happens about once a week.

Posted by: poorman1 | June 29, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Metro wants to continue to raise the fare. That's poor customer service. Whatever happened to clocking out at the END of your shift? What is the probability that the station manager really left at an hour early?

Posted by: whatsreallygoingon | June 29, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

@RepealObamacareNow - really? You don't close and lock-up before the last train leaves the station. Good grief idiot

Posted by: Shiba-fussa | June 30, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

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