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

The attorney representing Yareni Rios-Gonzalez has notified the towns of Platteville and Fort Lupton a lawsuit may be filed against their police departments.

PLATTEVILLE, Colo. — As she recovers at home in bed with nine broken ribs, a fractured sternum, and a broken arm and leg, Yareni Rios-Gonzalez’s legal case against police is just beginning. 

“She's in a lot of pain. And I think she just realizes there's a long road ahead. And, you know, it's a little daunting,” civil attorney Paul Wilkinson said during an interview with 9NEWS. 

The train collision with an occupied police unit made national and international news this past week after 9NEWS obtained police body camera and dashboard camera video of the collision. 

Police detained Rios-Gonzalez, 20, in a unit that was parked on the train tracks during a stop on Sept. 16. A Union Pacific freight train collided with the unit with her inside shortly after she was detained.

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

Wilkinson said he expects to file a lawsuit on behalf of his client in the next few months as she recovers with physical therapy. He told 9NEWS he sent letters to Platteville and Fort Lupton notifying them about a “notice of claim,” which is required under state law before a lawsuit is filed in state court. 

“She's a really nice young lady who wants to be out with her friends and her family and she realizes that it's gonna be a while before she can do that,” Wilkinson said. 

While Gonzalez’s civil case begins, the Weld County District Attorney’s Office has told 9NEWS it is still reviewing a potential criminal case against Rios-Gonzalez for road rage. Charges against her have not been filed. 

State investigators with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Colorado State Patrol are also reviewing the incident. 9NEWS legal experts who reviewed the video said officers could face criminal charges in the case. 

Before the collision, Fort Lupton and Platteville police were responding to a 911 call about road rage with a gun. A Platteville officer pulled over Rios-Gonzalez at the rail crossing at County Road 36 and U.S. 85. 

The Platteville police officer parked his vehicle on the tracks during the stop. Shortly after cuffing Rios-Gonzalez, a Fort Lupton officer placed her in the police cruiser which was then hit by the train. 

Rios-Gonzalez is a mother and a TSA agent, according to Wilkinson. She’s home with family and will begin physical therapy sometime soon in the future, he said.

If you have any information about this story or would like to send a news tip, you can contact jeremy@9news.com

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