AURORA, Colo. — A man is facing nine assault charges after derailing the Regional Transportation District R Line train he was operating on Jan. 28 during a snowstorm in Aurora, police said on Tuesday.
According to the Aurora Police Department, 33-year-old Jeremiah Hartzell is being held on the following recommended charges:
- One count of first-degree assault
- Three counts of second-degree assault
- Five counts of third-degree assault.
The 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office still has to officially charge Hartzell.
Hartzell was fired by RTD after the wreck.
On Monday, Jan. 28, a snowstorm took the metro area by surprise. Buses were jackknifing, hundreds of crashes were reported throughout Denver and its suburbs, and an RTD R Line derailed and ejected a woman from the cars.
When the train derailed, the woman was thrust into the train car’s door, and because of the amount of force, she was ejected, according to Aurora police Lt. Jad Lanigan.
Several others on the train had to be taken to nearby hospitals for minor injuries, APD said.
Davion Finley told 9NEWS he was on the R Line at the time of the incident and felt it was going too fast to make its upcoming turn. That's when the train went off the tracks.
"The back of the train had snapped off the wire and was swinging like crazy," Finley said. "At that point of time, the first time it swung, that's when it knocked that lady off of the train."
An RTD spokesperson said the train was traveling at an estimated 30 mph. The driver was supposed to have slowed down to 10 mph.
“Light rail operators are trained to slow their trains when approaching sharp turns on the track,” RTD said in the release. “Since it was found the operator was not following safety protocol, RTD has terminated the operator.”
Per Aurora city officials, the train was headed up south Sable and derailed during the turn onto Exposition. The intersection was closed for five hours after the wreck.
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