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Victims' families attend hearing

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Emotions flow at NTSB hearing
[Post journalist Anna Uhls interviews victims' family members]

A few family members of victims of the June crash attended the first day of hearings as part of what some called an ongoing process of grief and an effort to find closure over the loss of their loved ones.

"My brother, I think about him every day," said Kenneth Hawkins, younger brother of victim Dennis Hawkins, 64, an administrative aide at Whittier Elementary School in Northwest Washington. Hawkins, who never married and had no children, had just left the school on the day of the crash and was heading by Metro to teach vacation Bible school, Whittier Principal Nicole Clifton has said.

But for Kenneth Hawkins, Tuesday's hearing offered no promise.

"Nothing's going to change," said Hawkins, safety director at Washington Hospital Center, calling the NTSB hearings an empty "bureaucratic process."

"Who will be there to make WMATA do what they have to do" to improve safety, he asked during a break from the proceedings at the cavernous NTSB hearing room at L'Enfant Plaza.

Hawkins noted that several recommendations made by the NTSB in the wake of the 2004 Red Line accident at Woodley Park Station had still not been implemented. The NTSB "has no teeth," he said.

"We're riding an unsafe system," said Hawkins, adding that he rarely takes Metro, preferring to drive instead. He said he believes federal oversight may be the only way to ensure greater security on the system.

By Michael Bolden  |  February 23, 2010; 1:28 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: WMATA, metro, metro safety  
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