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Posted at 3:40 PM ET, 01/14/2011

Delays after MARC train hits person

By Mark Berman
Mark Berman

3:40 P.M. UPDATE:

The 81-year-old man struck Friday morning while crossing the tracks to catch the MARC in Gaithersburg has been identified as James Thomas Clemons.

Montgomery County police say Clemons, of the 400 block of Russell Avenue in Gaithersburg, was attempting to cross the tracks when he was struck by an inbound MARC train. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Transit Administration said in a release this afternoon that he was one of several passengers who ran in front of the train in an attempt to get to the platform and board it. They remind passengers to always look both ways before crossing the tracks, as a train could come at any time from any direction; encourage riders not to run across the tracks; and say passengers should not attempt to cross tracks if they see a train coming, as it can be difficult to judge the speed of an arriving train.


There are major MARC delays this morning after a pedestrian was struck by a MARC train at the Gaithersburg station. The pedestrian was struck by MARC train 878 at 7:52 a.m., according to Dave Clark, a spokesman for the Maryland Transit Administration. There's no word yet on the condition of the pedestrian. There are no reported problems for anybody on the train.

The pedestrian was an 81-year-old man who appears to have been crossing the tracks to catch a commuter train, officials said. He lived only two blocks away on Russell Avenue. Dan Morse has the story on Crime Scene.

Train 878 is stopped at the station, and there's no timetable yet for when it will move. Trains 894 and 880 were stopped behind it for a considerable period of time, so this is impacting a large number of commuters heading into work. Trains 880 and 894 are going to move in reverse by 9:25 or 9:30 a.m. and then continue to run around train 878. They will arrive at stations on the opposite track.

Buses that were going to Germantown and Metro Grove stations have been canceled, but Metro will still accept MARC tickets.

[This post has been updated. Most recent update at 9:35 a.m.]

By Mark Berman  | January 14, 2011; 3:40 PM ET
Categories:  MARC  
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Posted by: ibrahimali2009 | January 14, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure about the crossing signals at Gaithersburg, but all of the crossing signals at the Germantown station have been removed. There is no indication of when a train is approaching. The station used to have flashing lights, a sign that lit up with a train symbol and bells. Now there is a small sign that says, "Look both ways before crossing the tracks".
A few days ago the train's driver did not sound any whistles as the train entered the station. I don't know what kind of improvements they think that they are making by removing all signals. It's so dangerous and I hope it did not contribute to this loss of life.

Posted by: shen606 | January 14, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

As a commuter at this stop I have a heavy heart for both the pedestrian and the engineer. The Gaithersburg stop is a very dangerous stop; cars do not yield for us and the only place to keep warm is the station which is on the other side of the tracks.

Posted by: hansenjo | January 14, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

With respect to the danger at the Gaithersburg station: it's a straight stretch of track there, it was a sunny day with no visibility problems (I was on the train in question), so whether the train operator blew his whistle is irrelevant. The train was on time and should have been able to be seen by anyone wishing to board.

On the issue of warmth: Give me a break. I take MARC daily from Duffields to Rockville, neither of which stations have any protection from the weather whatsoever. In January, it's cold; deal with it, dress warmly, and be ready when your train arrives.

At least twice a year, someone in Montgomery County on foot or in a vehicle tries to beat a MARC train at a crossing. The MARC train always wins these contests, and it causes major delays for hundreds of commuters, simply because a self-important individual won the Darwin award.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | January 14, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

When you cross the tracks you need to look in the direction that a train would be coming & hustle. Eyes wide open. No dawdling, strolling, yakking on the precious cellphone, texting, listening to music on your headphones, etc. It's up to you to protect yourself. Don't put the blame on the man driving the train. He has a lot of things to worry about.

Posted by: TaxiDriver | January 14, 2011 10:06 AM | Report abuse

@74umgrad1, you're right, people should be ready and not try to race the train, and people engage in risky behaviour at that stop all the time. They run across the tracks in front of the train, skirt the rail-side edge of the warning tiles as the train is entering the station, etc. That being said, you can't deny that a warm, toasty coffee shop/waiting and ticket area would be awfully tempting in this weather, and wishful thinking and pointing out how things Should Be won't change that. Many such incidents (ain't an accident - this could have been prevented) are a result of both behaviour and environment. So since saying peoples' foolishness might interfere with a commute won't fix the problem, what's the solution? Is it more education, more barricades, cops giving out tickets, accurate signs that tell you how far out the train is inside the waiting area, locking the waiting area, improving the shelters on the other side of the tracks so that the waiting room isn't quite so appealing? Or do we just accept that people will continue to do what they do and that in another year or so another person will likely be severly hurt or die?

Posted by: kickabout | January 14, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Another suicide by MARC train.

Posted by: jismquiff | January 14, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

@ 74umgrad1

There are both Eldery and young children who use this stop in the morning. Would you have them out in the Cold????? Oh, and Rockville does have a warm place to go, it is downstairs from the train.

Posted by: hansenjo | January 14, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

As bad as it is that someone died, I truly feel for the engineer of the train. The person, no matter how old they are, SHOULD NOT be crossing in front of a train.

Doesn't anyone here have any common sense?

Before you ask, my dad was an Amtrak engineer for 30 years and he would kill me if he found out I did that. That's if the train didn't kill me first.

SMARTEN UP PEOPLE AND QUIT COMPLAINING ABOUT THE WEATHER. If you don't like it, move somewhere warm. I hear Arizona is nice this time of year.

Posted by: jwash4472 | January 14, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"Oh, and Rockville does have a warm place to go, it is downstairs from the train."


If you're referring to the Metro restroom, I stand corrected; otherwise you're wrong, as all waiting areas at the Rockville Metro/MARC station are open-air.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | January 14, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

74umgrad1 you must be blind. The waiting area is downstairs on the parking lot side with a big Marc sign on it; they even have a ticket machine in there.

Posted by: hansenjo | January 14, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I was running from the garage, down the stairs, to the platform, when this gentleman was hit. The train was not on time. It was running 5 minutes late. I was startled that the train was approaching the station ... I had not heard the train whistle as it approached the station. It appeared to me that the train was coming in faster than normal. I must have come across him within 15 seconds of the incident. He was in a contorted position near the sidewalk, and nobody was touching him or saying anything. He had clearly died instantly. It was an eerie silence. The situation got worse when the had to empty train 880 at the station ... people had to walk by the gentleman as he was being worked on. I saw people getting out their cell phone cameras to document the scene not long after the incident. Troubling ...

Posted by: stp732 | January 14, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Fair enough, hansenjo; however, that room is neither within sight nor earshot of the MARC trains. Also, I would wager that most MARC commuters transferring to Metro would never set foot on that side of the station and would be unaware of the room's existence. With respect to the room itself...for years, that room, despite signs indicating that it was a ticket office, was locked every single time I tried to use it to buy weekly tickets.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | January 14, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I hope that this is a sign that Overseas Contingency Operations Against Man Caused Disasterists is over, as the Man Caused Disasterists have begun to turn from Man Caused Disasters to blogspam.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | January 14, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse

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