‘She saw everything coming’: Greeley woman plans to sue after being hit by train while in police custody

Police body camera video from Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, shows police illegally parked on train tracks in Weld County.
Fort Lupton Police via 9News
Police video from Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, shows a train as it’s about to hit a police car illegally parked on tracks in Weld County.

A 20-year-old woman from Greeley plans to file a lawsuit against two Weld County police departments after she was restrained in a squad car, watching and screaming as it was hit by a train.

The lawyer for Yareni Rios-Gonzalez said she was released from the hospital over the weekend after being treated for nine broken ribs, a broken arm, a broken leg, a fractured sternum and head injuries. She spent more than a week in the hospital and faces a long recovery.

"She's a young lady. She wants to be out there doing stuff with her friends and going to work and all the stuff she enjoys doing," said attorney Paul Wilkinson. She kind of knows that it's gonna be a while before she can get back to just having a normal life."

Bodycam footage shows the squad car containing 20-year-old Yareni Rios-Gonzalez being struck by a train. Fort Lupton Police Department/Associated Press

Rios-Gonzalez, who works as a TSA agent at Denver International Airport, was stopped by a Platteville police officer in the early morning hours of Sept. 17. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said in a statement that she was accused in a road rage incident involving a gun. Two Fort Lupton police officers later arrived at the scene and put Rios-Gonzalez, who was in handcuffs, in the back of the Platteville officer’s car, which was illegally parked on railroad tracks. 

Body and dash camera footage released Friday shows the three officers searching Rios-Gonzalez’s pickup truck while she sat unattended in the police vehicle. A train slammed into the car a few moments later, sending it flying into a field.

"You can hear the train horn. The train has lights. Her hands were behind her back and she frantically tried to escape the vehicle, but the doors were locked, and it's kind of a cage," Wilkinson said. "She had thought about trying to get through to the front and get out that way, but she could not exit the vehicle. She saw everything coming."

Wilkinson said Rios-Gonzalez tried to alert one of the officers, but nobody responded to her screams. She lost consciousness after the crash and woke up hours later at the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley.

No charges have been filed against Rios-Gonzalez over the alleged road rage incident. Wilkinson would not speak about the allegations other than to say that his client did nothing wrong. He said police had enough time to act, adding that Rios-Gonzalez was "really upset" after viewing a video of the crash.

Platteville police chief Carl Dwyer confirmed the Platteville police officer involved is on administrative leave while an investigation is underway. The Fort Lupton Police Department declined to comment. 

Several Colorado agencies are investigating aspects of what happened, including  the CBI. Fort Lupton police are looking into the initial 911 call that led to the stop, while the Colorado State Patrol is investigating the crash itself.