Updated: Houston Metro Train Kills Female Bicyclist

Vivian Ziwei Guan
Photo via Rice University
July 22, 2013 - by Tom Mannis - A southbound Metro light rail train struck and killed Vivian Ziwei Guan, a 20-year-old Rice University architecture student. She was hit by the train at the intersection of Main and Walker during the busy morning rush in downtown Houston. The accident happened around 8:08 a.m. while commuters were waiting on the platform to board the Fannin South train. The woman was dead by the time first responders arrived a few minutes after the accident.

UPDATE: Memorial for Vivian Ziwei Guan held on Friday, July 26 (Houston Press).

I was at that intersection when the accident happened. While standing on the northeast corner of Main and Walker, I heard a loud crunching sound, like metal on metal, that quickly turned into a grinding sound. It was a sickening sound. I turned to see what was happening and saw what appeared to be a mangled bicycle being dragged through the narrow space between the train and the boarding platform.

Metro train killed a cyclist, Houston
(Cody Duty / Houston Chronicle)
Passengers on the platform were horrified by what they had just witnessed. One man, in business attire, was so shocked by the horrific accident that he held his head with both hands and repeatedly shouted "Shit, shit!" as he walked away from the scene.

Curiously, the Houston Chronicle reports that "witnesses said they saw the woman riding down the middle of the tracks before the collision. They started screaming at her to get out of the way." 

However, I did not hear anybody screaming before I heard the train hit the bike. If the Chronicle's report is true, it begs the question as to why the train's driver did not see the woman and stop.

This is not the first time that a Metro train has struck and killed someone. Many Houstonians called the Metro the "danger train." In 2008 another female bicyclist was hit the Texas Medical Center. She suffered an injured knee and minor cuts.

A report on February 12, 2008 said that "A passenger on the light rail train that struck and injured a bicyclist....says the operator did not sound a horn or apply the brakes before the collision." That sounds a lot like what I heard and saw this morning at Walker and Main. No horn. No sound of brakes before the collision.

The tragedy on July 22 was not the first, and probablyl won't be the last on Houston's Metro lines. For more about how treacherous the system is, watch the video "Destroyed In Seconds Houston Metro Rail."

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