by Jo Ellen Nott
On September 16, 2022, 22-year-old Yareni Rios Gonzalez of Greeley, Colorado, was struck by a train in Platteville while sitting detained in the back seat of a patrol car that inexplicably had been left on the railroad tracks of a train crossing. Rios Gonzalez had been a suspect in a road-rage incident earlier that evening in Fort Lupton.
The gruesome incident began when someone called 911 and reported that the woman had been tailgating their vehicle and pulled out a gun in Fort Lupton. Rios Gonzalez was traveling north bound on Highway 85 as Fort Lupton police officers and Weld County sheriff’s deputies searched for her truck. A Platteville officer pulled Rios Gonzalez over just beyond the railroad tracks that cross Weld County Road 38.
The Platteville officer stopped behind her truck leaving his squad car parked on the train tracks. When two Fort Lupton officers arrived, they helped the Platteville officer conduct a high-risk traffic stop and take the woman into custody. While the police searched Rios-Gonzalez’s truck, a northbound freight train hit the squad car Rios-Gonzalez was seated in just after 7:30 pm. Rios-Gonzalez sustained serious injuries but is “expected to survive,” according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Ed Obayahi, an expert on police practices and a California sheriff’s deputy, found the attending officers’ actions inexplicable. He explained that law enforcement has “a duty of care towards the subject they have taken into custody because they assumed physical control over them and their movements.” He criticized the arresting officer saying he couldn’t fathom why he would leave his vehicle on the tracks with the subject inside.
The unimaginably awful incident is under investigation by multiple agencies. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is focused on the injuries sustained by Rios Gonzalez while in police custody. The Colorado State Patrol is investigating the traffic accident that occurred between the train and the Platteville PD patrol vehicle. The Fort Lupton Police Department is handling the criminal investigation of the incidents leading up to the initial call for police assistance.
Platteville Police Chief Carl Dwyer said the officer who left his squad car on the train tracks was placed on administrative leave while officials investigate.
Sources: Vice, 9NEWS, PerezHilton.com
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