Colorado woman struck by train while trapped in police cruiser sues

A woman who was struck by a train while trapped in the back of a Colorado police cruiser is suing the department alleging its officers failed to keep her safe.

Yareni Rios-Gonzalez filed the lawsuit Thursday in Weld County District Court against three officers and the Platteville Police Department for “failing to protect Plaintiff from being hit by a freight train while in custody.”

Rios-Gonzalez suffered broken ribs, a broken arm and a broken sternum, as well as a head injury, in the Sept. 16 incident.

That night, multiple officers responded to a report of a road rage incident involving a firearm in Fort Lupton. Platteville police Sgt. Pablo Vazquez stopped Rios-Gonzalez’s car just past a set of railroad tracks and parked his patrol vehicle on the crossing. The officers then handcuffed the 20-year-old and locked her in the back seat of the patrol vehicle on the tracks.

The train struck the parked vehicle, launching it nearly a half mile off the track. The train weighed 11,153 tons at the time of impact, according to the lawsuit.

Prosecutors charged two officers in connection to the crash.

Fort Lupton Police Department officer Jordan Steinke faces charges of criminal attempt to commit manslaughter, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. Vazquez faces charges of reckless endangerment, obstructing a highway or other passageway, careless driving and parking where prohibited.

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