Body May Have Been on Metro Train For 5 Hours

Deceased passenger discovered at Shady Grove station

By Matthew Stawarz
|  Wednesday, May 19, 2010  |  Updated 8:02 PM EDT
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Body May Have Been on Metro Train For 5 Hours

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The passenger who died Monday while riding a Red Line train was not discovered for almost five hours after he boarded the train, according to Metro.

Paramedics were called to the Shady Grove rail yard after receiving a report of an “unconscious patron” on a train there. They determined the passenger was dead.

Ricky Van Houter, 52, of Rockville, Md., got on the inbound train at Twinbrook at about 10:15 a.m., which means he traveled to Silver Spring and then back to Shady Grove by 11:55 a.m., according to Metro police. During that time no passengers reported seeing him dead or in distress.

The train was then inspected from the platform and sent to the Shady Grove rail yard with Van Houter's body still on board.  Metro said workers did perform a visual inspection, but did not see the deceased man. 

They found Van Houter's body just before 3 p.m. as the train was being prepared to be put back in service for the afternoon rush.

Metro is now reviewing its procedure for inspecting trains before moving them into rail yards after service. New rules require Metro operators to walk through their trains at the end of the line to make sure no one is left on board. Two operators were put on leave during the investigation but are back on duty. 

A Metro spokesperson said the preliminary report indicates Van Houter died due to natural causes. He was a computer expert with a wife and kids who was on his way to work. He was also a musician who played saxophone, clarinet and piano.

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