A Metrorail car that had left Miami International Airport partially derailed while changing tracks at a low speed near Northwest 41st Street and 23rd Avenue close to Allapattah Friday evening, according to Miami-Dade Transit and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to the incident, reported WPLG Local 10, after a power outage on the track. Passengers were safely evacuated along an emergency pathway, and by late Friday, no injuries had been reported.
Passengers who were on the train describe a jarring trip after leaving Miami International Airport. About midway or so on their way to Earlington Heights, the train stopped suddenly, with one passenger describing a wobble just before. Some described it going in reverse. Everyone interviewed agreed there was the smell of smoke.
“I just finished chemotherapy three months ago,” said Julieta Gutman, a passenger who was on her way home from her job at the airport’s rental-car center. “That smell was killing me.”
Photos of the lead car by Gutman and passenger Luba Parada show the vehicle off the tracks by at least 30 degrees and resting on the side structure. Miami-Dade Transit described it as a partial derailment. One passenger’s photo from the train showed an image from the window, with white debris scattered on the ground several stories below.
“It was a scary situation,” said Karol Wilches, another passenger. “I just called my wife until we were on the ground.”
Passengers described an orderly evacuation once county paramedics arrived. They led passengers down an emergency pathway off the tracks to the Earlington Heights station.
“There was no panic,” said Dr. Kirby Gross, a trauma surgeon working in Miami. “It was very controlled.”
At Earlington, passengers on the rush-hour train were escorted to a transit bus to wait nearly three hours for interviews with investigators. After 9 p.m., an apologetic transit worker boarded the bus to say police had their contact info and they were free to leave. Transit spokeswoman Karla Damian said the county’s Transportation department would conduct the investigation, and the results would shared with the National Transportation Safety Board.
Due to the incident Miami-Dade Transit is also making sure a bus shuttle is being provided between Earlington Heights and Miami Airport stations in addition to Culmer and MLK stations. Regular northbound and southbound service will continue between Culmer and Dadeland South and MLK and Palmetto stations, according to Miami-Dade.
Miami-Dade Transit also reported passengers heading to the airport should expect to transfer at the Earlington Heights station for the Orange Line Train.
The incident remains under investigation, according to the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works.