Wrong Side of the Tracks

So far this year, two people have been killed on Colorado railways. But there are six victims.

He's seen countless other vehicles--trucks, cars, school buses--take a similar gamble. "We supposedly have a program where if you get the license plates, you can turn it in and they'll ticket the driver," Witt says, but only one of the ten plate numbers he's turned in has ever been given a summons. Law-enforcement officials, he says, don't consider stopping rail trespassers an important endeavor. "It's not a serious enough situation until you actually run over somebody. Then it's serious."

Witt and Masias were the backup crew for the Titan Road accident, and the crash site borders Burlington Northern's Big Lift Station at Titan Road and Highway 85. After the crew makes a quick stop at Big Lift, Mullins eases his train of empty coal cars across Titan Road while idling motorists wait for the train to pass. Just outside Mullins's window, a series of stones placed in primitive fashion in the dirt beside the track spell out six names, weathered memorials to the six teens who perished here four years ago. A few of the stones have tumbled from their places to rest among the scraps of six broken wooden crosses below. "You start playing tag with a train, you're gonna lose," Masias says. "The public needs to understand that."

Witt interrupts: "Ah, but Kenny, they know better, and they still do it. They've obviously never seen a car hit by a train."

Today Larry Fiolkoski still runs a route across Titan Road, and he says drivers there continue to gamble with death when the train approaches. "I see people run this crossing all the time," he says. "All the time. Everyone thinks, 'It won't happen to me; it'll happen to someone else.' And everybody's in a hurry to go nowhere and do nothing when they get there. So what's the hurry at a crossing? I get tired of it, how stupid people can be.

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