Woman Struck by Train While Locked in Police Car To Get $8.5 Million Settlement

Yareni Rios was severely injured after a train struck a police car she had been placed in after being arrested in 2022.


In 2022, Yareni Rios was arrested in connection with an alleged road rage incident. When police detained her near train tracks in Weld County, Colorado, they left her locked in a police car parked on the tracks. Soon after, a train struck the car, leaving Rios with broken ribs, a broken arm, and injuries to her head, back, and legs.

Last year, Rios sued the officers responsible. This week, two Colorado towns agreed to pay her a whopping $8.5 million settlement.

"This is an excellent result," Paul Wilkinson, an attorney for Rios, told 9NEWS, a local news station, "especially when dealing with small municipalities with limited funds amid a hard fought battle for our client."

On September 16, 2022, Fort Lupton Police Officer Pablo Vasquez pulled over Rios on suspicion of participating in an earlier road rage incident, according to 9NEWS. Rios stopped after the train tracks, while Vasquez parked directly on the tracks. After being handcuffed, another officer, Jordan Steinke, placed Rios in the back of the car.

According to Colorado Public Radio, as the officers searched Rios' vehicle, a freight train approached. Though the train's conductor honked his horn several times, the officers didn't respond. The train struck Vasquez's vehicle at nearly 48 mph, sending the car rolling and traveling about half a mile before stopping.

Video footage of the incident shows the officers' shock after the collision.

"She was in there," one officer said after the train struck the vehicle.

"Oh fuck. Oh fuck," another replied.

Rios filed a lawsuit in January 2023, alleging that the officers engaged in negligent and reckless conduct when they trapped her in Vasquez's vehicle parked on the tracks. After more than a year of litigation, the suit was settled this week, with Rios being awarded over $8 million in damages.

Both Vasquez and Steinke were criminally charged for their role in the incident. In July 2023, Steinke was found guilty of misdemeanor reckless endangerment and third-degree assault. In December of that same year, Vasquez pled guilty to misdemeanor reckless endangerment.