Low on fruits and veggies, I headed to the Jean-Talon market today to replenish. Since my legs have been mostly vegetables themselves from lack of exercise, I decided to walk the 2 km, enviro-green shopping bin in hand.
I was disappointed to find that my standard fruit store, Sami Fruits, was empty. Not closed, but empty. All I could see inside was a forklift. No worries, though, the market proper had more than enough to satisfy me (though I managed to snatch the last bag of seedless red grapes at $2/lb).
As I walked back to the metro (I’m not walking 2km with 20 lbs of fruit in tow), I noticed police cars and ambulances parked outside, and an unusually long line waiting for the 31 St. Denis. There’s only one reason these things would happen: Someone has died, or gotten seriously injured, in the metro.
The “incident” (as the police described it to curious onlookers) happened about 5:30pm today on the Côte-Vertu-bound platform of the orange line at Jean-Talon. By 6pm the entire station had been evacuated and passengers flooded adjoining streets, looking for cabs, calling friends for lifts and trying to get on buses that were woefully unprepared to take on the traffic of multiple metro trains.
At about 6:15, the station was partially re-opened, allowing people access to the blue line platforms. Service was cut completely between Berri-UQAM and Montmorency. Police officers standing guard in front of orange tape were instructing people on how best to get to their destination, repeating the situation to everyone who walked by: “Only the blue line is open.”
As I stood outside the ticket booth, I could get a narrow glimpse of the platform, where a train had stopped about halfway in the station. The nature of the “incident” became obvious: Someone had either thrown themselves or been pushed in front of the train at the end of the platform (where the front of the train would be travelling at its fastest relative to the platform), the train ran the person over and took about 75 metres to come to a complete stop.
When a fatality occurs in such a way, it’s not a simple matter to deal with (though the police sadly have had a lot of practice). First aiders have to intervene, the train has to be evacuated, the station has to be evacuated, police have to take photos and compile a report, the train itself has to be taken out of service, the driver has to be treated for shock, and the area needs to be cleaned up.
Finally, at 6:35, the orange line platforms were partially reopened (the far sides still being cleaned), and it was announced that the orange line was back in service. That turned out to be a bit premature, as there were still workers on the tracks. The next announcement clarified that service was delayed but not stopped. It wasn’t until 6:50 that the first trains, packed pretty tight, entered and left the station and service began to return to normal.
This kind of story isn’t one you’ll hear often in the media. Journalists don’t talk about them, for fear that reporting on them will encourage other, more extravagant suicide attempts. It’s a sensible policy, and no part of this is particularly newsworthy (beyond “metro shut down for an hour”).
I don’t know whose blood now sits between the rails at Jean-Talon, and I don’t particularly care to know the name of the person who decided to end his or her life in such a selfish way.
But I was delayed for an hour today, half of that standing in the cold. Just what did that accomplish?
Nothing. That’s sad.