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Subway accident survivor reflects on decision to change cars – FOX23 News

MEXICO CITY – (AP) – The decision to switch cars to get closer to a train station exit may have saved Erik Bravo, a 34-year-old financial advisor who survived the collapse of an elevated train line in Mexico City’s metro system in which 25 people were killed and 80 injured.

Bravo said Thursday that he and two colleagues from work were used to taking line number 12 home from their workplaces. As usual, his two friends got off at their stops late Monday.

Alone, Bravo decided to put on his headphones and use the time before his stop at Olivos Station to advance through a couple of subway cars and be closer to the exit at the end of the platform when he arrived.

The move probably kept him from disaster.

“You realize that, in a way, you got a second chance because that could have been you,” said Bravo.

When his car stopped next to the platform, he felt the train jerk as if pulled from behind and come to a stop as smoke filled the cabin. A male passenger called out to people to lie down on the ground for safety.

“The people were desperate, they were trying to break the glass, they wanted to open the windows to escape,” Bravo recalled.

The automatic doors would not open, but a police officer told them that a door further back was open.

Bravo went backwards, not knowing that the last two cars on the subway had fallen into the rubble of the collapsed high rail bed.

In one of the last cars still on the track, two people lay unconscious on the floor. A little girl was crying. “I saw a man with his two little girls,” Bravo said, but he doesn’t know what happened to them.

He went home numb.

“When I got home … we started looking at everything that came out on the internet,” Bravo said. “It was a shock, I had been there. We were beginning to see that people had died, people were missing and wounded, and here I was still unharmed. “

Authorities say the collapse occurred after a steel girder holding the elevated line broke. The investigators are now trying to find out how and why.

The line, the newest of the metro, extends far to the south side of the city. Like many of the system’s dozen subway lines, it runs underground through more central areas of the city of 9 million people, but sits on raised concrete structures on the outskirts.

Shortly after its inauguration in 2012, there were allegations of poor design and construction of Line 12, and the line had to be partially closed in 2014 for the tracks to be repaired.

The city’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake in 2017 revealed some structural flaws that experts say should have resulted in a complete closure and full inspection of the route. Instead, the authorities made some patchwork fixes and reopened them.

Although Bravo knew there were cracks and defects, it never occurred to him that it might collapse.

“Yes, you knew there were defects, but not those types of defects that would cause something to happen,” he said.

Most consider the tragedy avoidable.

“They could have avoided this if the government had paid attention to the services they offer us,” said Ana María Luna, another regular passenger on the route. “But they haven’t heeded all of the reports of deficiencies,” she said.

Even on the subway, Luna had to travel hours to get to her job as a security guard. Since the disaster, their journey has stretched to three hours.

The collapse has temporarily closed the subway line and made thousands of residents on the south side dependent on the bus service. People waited in long lines to get on buses on Thursday.

“The politicians don’t care whether they do things right or not,” said Victor Luna, who was trying to get his job as a security guard.

María Isabel Fuentes, a domestic worker, said she had long been concerned about the subway’s shortcomings. “It’s been scary since it was opened,” she said.

Because it serves low-income neighborhoods, the line rarely seemed a priority, she said. “We are the same ones who always pay.”

Bravo has been busy since his near miss, fixing an old motorcycle he owns so he can go to work now that the line is out of order. However, his nights were sleepless as he pondered what could have been.

“In a way, I’m grateful to someone, something up there who, for some reason, decided it wasn’t my time,” Bravo said.

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