Colorado State Student Loses Legs While Train Hopping

By DAN ELLIOTT | September 8, 2011

A 17-year-old girl whose legs were severed while trying to hop a freight train was trying to get back to Fort Collins, Colo., where she attends Colorado State University, after a trip to Denver, police said Tuesday.

The teen’s legs were detached at the knee when she fell under the train on Monday in Longmont, Colo., about 30 miles north of Denver and 30 miles south of Fort Collins.

Her name hasn’t been released. Her parents live in Sandy, Utah, Longmont Police Cmdr. Jeff Satur said Tuesday.

The girl and three male companions got a ride in a car from Denver to Longmont earlier Monday and planned to ride the train the rest of the way to Fort Collins, Satur said. Investigators don’t know how they got to Denver, he said.

One of the males, a 17-year-old from Fort Collins, got aboard the train but quickly jumped off, suffering abrasions on his left arm, Satur said. His name wasn’t released because he is a juvenile. Police had said earlier he was hurt when he was dragged by the train.

A 21-year-old man from the Denver suburb of Broomfield, Colo., got aboard the train and his whereabouts were unknown on Tuesday, Satur said. Investigators know his name but won’t release it until they contact him.

Satur identified the third male as Charles Hamilton, 25, of Gillette, Wyo. He didn’t get aboard the train and wasn’t injured. Investigators believe he pulled the girl away from the train after she was hurt, Satur said.

Colorado State University spokeswoman Dell Rae Moellenberg confirmed the girl is a student there but said she couldn’t release any other information.

The three males are not CSU students, Satur said. Hamilton and the 17-year-old boy were cited for trespassing.

The train had four locomotives and 118 cars and was moving 10-18 mph at the time of the accident, Satur said. The group tried to board the 33rd car, he said.

Drugs and alcohol were not involved, police said.

Nationwide, 442 pedestrians were killed and 388 were injured when they were stuck and killed by trains on railroad property in 2010, according to Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit that promotes rail safety. The Federal Railroad Administration classifies the pedestrians as trespassers because they were on railroad property.

In Colorado, four pedestrians were killed and six were injured when they were struck by trains in 2010.

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