A-Line Crash Video: See Why Investigators Believe RTD Incident Was Suicide-By-Train

The moment before impact.
The moment before impact. Aurora Police Department via YouTube
Update: The driver of a van killed after the vehicle was struck by the A Line train in Aurora early on February 14 has been identified as Billy Ray Guinn, 56.

As is noted in our previous coverage, video of the incident released yesterday by the Aurora Police Department appears to show that Guinn deliberately drove the van onto the tracks.

In the clip, also shared here, he can be seen waiting an estimated 38 seconds before accelerating into the path of the approaching train.

Guinn reportedly had a lengthy criminal history, but most of his offenses were traffic-related — DUI included.

See a previous Guinn booking photo, followed by our earlier report, which includes the video.

click to enlarge Billy Ray Guinn. - AURORA POLICE DEPARTMENT VIA 9NEWS
Billy Ray Guinn.
Aurora Police Department via 9News
Original post, 11:44 a.m. February 16: New and startling video has been released of a fatal crash involving a van and RTD's troubled A Line train that took place early on the morning of Valentine's Day, February 14. The images, on view below, reinforce the Aurora Police Department theory that the driver deliberately pulled the van onto the tracks in order to commit suicide by train.

Warning: The video may disturb some readers.

The episode is only the latest in a series of troubling incidents involving RTD. This time around, however, the agency is stressing that all of its equipment worked as designed and was not a factor in the man's death.

In a January 23 post, as we've reported, RTD spokesman Scott Reed told us that the agency's buses, trains and properties were safer than ever despite several recent high-profile incidents, including a stabbing and an assault.

What are arguably the two most shocking crimes to take place in Denver during this still-young year followed over the next couple of weeks, and both had RTD connections.

First, on January 31, RTD security officer Scott Von Lanken was shot to death near Union Station and the 16th Street Mall. Because the suspect in the case, Joshua Cummings, has expressed pro-Islam and anti-police sentiments online, the slaying is seen by some observers as a possible act of terrorism.

Then, on February 7, 32-year-old Tim Cruz was killed in a robbery at RTD's 12th and Sheridan light-rail station. Two nineteen-year-old suspects, Nathan Valdez and Evan Valles, are being held on suspicion of first-degree murder.

Approximately one week later, at 3:49 a.m. on the 14th, the Aurora Police Department reports that a passenger van traveling south on North Chambers Road was struck by the eastbound A Line as the van was on the track between the crossing gates.

Shortly thereafter, investigators got a look at surveillance video of the railroad crossing, as seen from two distinct angles. Both sequences show that the driver of the van pulled into the railroad crossing area and came to a stop before the gates were activated by the oncoming train. He then waited for an estimated 38 seconds before driving directly in front of the train, with horrific results.

click to enlarge Another angle on the crash. - AURORA POLICE DEPARTMENT VIA YOUTUBE
Another angle on the crash.
Aurora Police Department via YouTube
In a release about the video, RTD stresses that the clip shows no malfunction took place.

"It is extremely important to note that the crossing's ENTRANCE gates activate properly — behind the van that drove into the intersection and stopped — and well before the train enters the intersection and impacts the van," an RTD release states. "There are other angles that show the crossing's EXIT gates, that also activated properly, by remaining open (to allow a vehicle that is inside the entrance gates to escape the intersection prior to the arrival of the train) and then the exit gates properly close. There is also a traffic signal near the EXIT gates that properly remains green after the ENTRANCE gates close, which lets the vehicle driver know they should get out of the intersection while the EXIT gates remain up."

The statement adds that "the distinction between the entrance gates versus the exit gates is very important, otherwise it will likely give the absolutely incorrect impression regarding the proper functioning of the gates at that intersection."

The driver of the van has not yet been identified. Continue to see the video, featuring both of the angles described above.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts