A 4-year-old girl is the only survivor of the family that was killed in a crash when their minivan was struck by an Amtrak train at a crossing in southern Colorado that has a record of accidents and problems.
The girl was airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries after a Southwest Chief train headed to Los Angeles from Chicago hit the van as it attempted to cross the railroad tracks on Sunday morning, near Trinidad, around 15 miles from the New Mexico border.
Hospital officials would not release information on the girl’s condition Monday, but relatives said she was in stable condition.
State Patrol Trooper Art Gumke reported that the girl’s father, Stephen Miller, 32, was driving the 2005 Chrysler Town & Country minivan. He and his wife, Christina Miller, 33, of Trinidad, were killed along with their three other daughters of 6 and 2 years, and 8 months old. The minivan was reportedly moving at the time of the crash and did not appear to be stuck.
The Millers were on their way to church.
Keith Schlabach, Christina’s cousin, told the Denver Post, “When they didn’t show up for church, we were worried about what was going on. We thought they were broken down or something. One of the other guys was driving back from church toward Steve’s house to see what happened, and then he got to the tracks.”
The train crossing is marked only by signs, but a proposal to add flashing lights and gates has been in discussion since 2013, according to The Denver Post.
Las Animas County commissioners and the state approved a joint application for the work just two weeks ago, but the proposal still needs the approval of the state Public Utilities Commission before it can begin, according to county administrator Leann Fabec. The plan is expected to cost $230,000, said Amy Ford from the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The crossing was marked for improvements as part of an ongoing project with counties and railroads to fix problematic crossings, Ford said.
There have been a total of six other accidents between trains and vehicles at the same crossing in the past 30 years, including another deadly crash in 2010, reports from the Federal Railroad Administration show.