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'I didn't know she was in my car': Platteville officer described train incident in body camera footage

In body camera footage, the Platteville officer whose car was hit by a train with a suspect inside explains what happened.

PLATTEVILLE, Colo. — The Platteville police officer who parked his patrol on train tracks prior to it being hit by a train with a 20-year-old suspect inside says in body camera footage obtained by 9NEWS that he "thought that I had cleared the tracks."

Yareni Rios-Gonzalez suffered numerous broken bones when the patrol car was hit on Sept. 16 near U.S. 85 and County Road 36. She had been pulled over related to an earlier road rage call from Fort Lupton and was suspected of pointing a gun at another person.

RELATED: CBI investigating officers who left suspect in squad car on train tracks

The 35-minute video clip obtained Thursday is from a Platteville officer who responded to the scene after the patrol was hit. 

At one point in the video, the officer walks over to an area where Sgt. Pablo Vasquez, the officer who parked on the tracks, is already speaking with two members of law enforcement.

RELATED: Man who called 911 on woman hit by train in a police car speaks

Vasquez said he became involved in the felony menacing call from Fort Lupton after Rios-Gonzalez entered Platteville's jurisdiction and said he put on his lights and initiated a traffic stop.

"This is where she stopped," he said gesturing toward Rios-Gonzalez's truck. "This is exactly where she stopped. I stopped behind her, I thought that I had cleared the tracks, however, I was focused on her because of the weapons."

RELATED: Report details officers leaving woman in patrol car hit by train

After that, a female Fort Lupton officer arrived and the two of them ordered Rios-Gonzalez to get out of the car and took her into custody.

"I cuffed her. And I didn't think the Lupton officer was going to put her in my car, I just didn't.  And she did," he said. "She put her in my car."

Credit: Yareni Rios
A photo of Yareni Rios before she was hit by a freight train while detained in a police vehicle.

Vasquez said he and the Fort Lupton officer cleared Rios-Gonzalez's truck and then another officer who had arrived on the scene began yelling about the train.

"I start moving this way and then pow," Vasquez said. "The one good thing is the female officer put her on the wrong side, which was the saving grace because if she would have put her where the prisoners go..." 

Credit: Platteville Police Department

Footage released earlier from Vasquez's body camera appears to indicate that he was not aware the suspect was in his car when it was hit.

"I didn't know she was in my car because I remember when the train hit, I said, 'Was she in my car?' And she said, 'Oh my God, she was."

Police reports said a Fort Lupton officer was crying and shaking after the crash. 

At one point in the video, Vasquez spoke to his chief on the phone to explain what happened. 

"We are working with a gun here, you know, and we don't want to just go up...I don't know. It was wrong circumstances at the wrong time," Vasquez said on the phone.

During another portion of the video released Thursday, a train operator is being interviewed. He said he believed they were traveling at about 46 mph when they hit the patrol car and that prior to impact both he and another operator had pulled the emergency brakes. 

RELATED: Woman hit by train while in police car takes steps toward lawsuit

He said as the train approached they initially thought the patrol car was off to the side but as they rounded a curve it was clear it was on the tracks. By that time, he said, it was too late to stop. He indicated their train was 6,743 feet long, weighed 11,153 tons and had 108 cars.

"It was just an empty vehicle we hit, right?" asked the conductor to an officer. 

"I think the suspect, the lady, she was in the back," said the officer.

More than two weeks after the crash a doctor cleared Yareni to start walking a bit. Officers said they did find a gun in her car.

The district attorney still hasn't announced whether Rios-Gonzalez will face charges in the road rage case.

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