Arlington County

Family Says Metro Should Have Stopped Man's Death on Tracks

In a $25 million lawsuit, the family of Walter Coulston Jr. argued that Metro workers could have prevented the man's death

A family has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), claiming negligence in the death of a man who lay down on the tracks at the Virginia Square rail station in July 2017.

Video of the incident obtained by News4 shows the man deliberately lowering himself onto the tracks and lying along the tracks for two minutes before he was struck and killed by a train. 

In their lawsuit, the family of Walter Coulston Jr. said the agency failed to intervene or prevent his death. Their civil complaint against WMATA said Coulston was "wandering" along the platform for nearly eight minutes before he lowered himself onto the tracks.

The suit said Coulston lay across the tracks for more than two minutes before he was run over and killed. 

The suit also said WMATA's station manager and rail operations center had access to security cameras that recorded the episode but did not intervene. The suit alleges the train operator also was negligent in the incident.

According to the civil complaint, "At no time while Mr. Coulston was present on the westbound platform of the Metro Station or on the train tracks did the [station manager] appear on the westbound platform to investigate Mr. Coulston's strange behavior or intervene and remove him from the train tracks and out of the path of oncoming Metrorail trains."

The suit also said, "At no time did [the train operator] attempt to stop the Metrorail train to avoid striking and running over Mr. Coulston." 

WMATA did not immediately return requests for comment. The agency has not yet filed a response to the suit in D.C. federal court. 

The suit seeks $25 million and was filed by a representative of Coulston's estate.

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