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Colorado Cops Charged After Train Slams into Cruiser Parked on Train Tracks With Handcuffed Suspect in Backseat

by Kaden Gicker

How did 20-year-old Yareni Rios-Gonzalez find herself handcuffed in the back seat of a police vehicle on the night of Sep. 16, 2022, as it was struck by a speeding train? Slate Report and Law & Crime reported that she had been pulled over near a railroad crossing by a Platteville, Colorado, police officer. That officer, Pablo Vazquez, was responding to a call about a road rage incident involving a gun. He parked his vehicle on the railroad crossing and took her into custody. Soon after, two more police officers arrived on the scene of the arrest. The newcomers, including officer Jordan Steinke, were from the Fort Lupton PD. Court documents indicate that Steinke placed Rios-Gonzalez in the back of the Platteville patrol vehicle. The officers completed their task, detaining a suspect on suspicion of felony menacing. Then Vazquez’s vehicle was hit by a train.

According to Rios-Gonzalez’s attorney, she lost teeth in the impact, suffered fractures to her ribs, a broken arm, and various injuries to her legs and head. She was reportedly the only individual involved to be injured by the incident.

Rios-Gonzalez was later charged with felony menacing, accused of pointing a gun at a man during the alleged road rage incident. But her single count paled in comparison to the number of charges officers Vazquez and Steinke received for leaving their detainee in the path of an approaching train.

For his part in the incident, officer Vazquez was handed a petty offense charge of obstructing a highway or other passageway, a single count of careless driving, a count of parking where prohibited, and five counts of reckless endangerment. The police chief in Platteville, Carl Dwyer, indicated that Vazquez had been put on administrative leave while the investigation into the matter is being carried out. Officer Steinke also received a count of reckless endangerment, another count of second-degree assault, and a single count of criminal attempt to manslaughter. The entire incident was caught on dashboard and body camera footage. In the video of the incident, one of the officers can be heard as it dawned on him what was about to happen. “Oh fuck,” he could be heard shouting as the train slammed into the occupied car. 

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