Friends, family remember 5 killed in Amtrak-van crash

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TRINIDAD, Colo. (AP) — Friends and family gathered Friday to remember five people, including three young children, who were killed when an Amtrak train slammed into their minivan at a crossing in southern Colorado.

Stephen Miller, 32, and his wife, Christina Miller, 33, were remembered as dedicated to God and family, according to The Pueblo Chieftain (https://goo.gl/FvjePI ).

“I cannot imagine going through a tragedy like this without the presence of God. It seems like a paradox,” said Jeff Yoder, a preacher who delivered the main message at the family’ service, which about 400 people attended. “There is grief on one hand, but on the other there is joy. They didn’t lose their lives. They gained their lives because they had already given their lives to Christ.”

The couple’s daughters, ages 6, 2 and 8 months, also were killed when the van crossed a marked but ungated railroad crossing near Trinidad as the family headed to church Sunday.

The girls were remembered respectively as bright, bubbly and always at the center of attention.

The Millers’ 4-year-old daughter was the only survivor of the crash.

The railroad crossing had been targeted for safety improvements for years and was identified as part of ongoing work with counties and railroads to fix problem areas, said Amy Ford, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Las Animas County commissioners approved a joint application for the work with the state a few weeks ago, but the proposal still has to be approved by the state Public Utilities Commission before work can start.

Meanwhile, Amtrak is using the train’s event recorder, similar to an airplane’s “black box,” to determine if the engineer sounded the horn before passing through the crossing.

There have been six other accidents between vehicles and trains at the same crossing in the last 30 years, including one other fatal crash in 2010, according to Federal Railroad Administration records.

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