The driver of a passenger van may have intentionally placed the vehicle in the path of a University of Colorado A Line train early this morning, leading to a collision that killed the van’s driver and injured several train passengers, according to the Aurora Police Department.
Surveillance footage shows that the van drove onto the train tracks at the Chambers Road crossing while the gates were open at about 3:49 a.m. today, according to Aurora police. The driver then appeared to stop on one of the four sets of rails at that intersection, Sgt. Chris Amsler said.
An eastbound A Line train approached soon after, at which point the gates closed, the driver pulled forward onto the approaching train’s track and the vehicle was struck, Amsler said. He didn’t immediately know how long the van sat on the tracks.
“Right now our investigation is kind of leading us to the possibility that this was an intentional act on the driver’s part,” Amsler said.
The collision happened near Smith Road and Chambers Road. The crossing was being staffed by an off-duty police officer and a flagger, as the A Line has had continuing problems with the timing of its crossing arms’ function.
The off-duty officer attempted to stop the van from entering the rail-road intersection, according to Amsler, while the flagger was on the other side of the crossing.
The train struck the conversion van at an unknown speed and pushed the vehicle about a quarter-mile down the track, according to Amsler. The off-duty officer was “showered with debris,” and had to run for his life, Amsler said. The A Line can reach maximum speeds of 79 mph near the site of the crash.
Aurora police said it’s unknown whether any malfunction on the line played any role in this collision. RTD told Colorado Public Radio that the gates “were working properly.”
Four people aboard the A Line sustained injuries, but only one was transported to the hospital, Amsler said.
“We do know that the gates were working properly. We did have a flagger on site and an off-duty Aurora police officer, and they indicated that everything was working as normal,” RTD spokesman Nate Currey told CPR.
The driver was the only occupant of the automobile and hasn’t been identified publicly. The Federal Railroad Administration also will be investigating.
Bus shuttles will be replacing train service on the A Line between Union Station and Peoria Station for the time being, according to Aurora police.
This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the day. If you have more information or witnessed the collision, please email me.