Woman left handcuffed in patrol car parked in path of train reaches settlement in lawsuit


Yareni Rios-Gonzalez was detained in this stationary police vehicle when a train struck her on Sept. 16, 2022. (Screenshot: Law&Crime Network)

Yareni Rios-Gonzalez was detained in this stationary police vehicle when a train struck her on Sept. 16, 2022. (Screenshot: Law&Crime Network)

A woman who suffered devastating wounds after police officers left her handcuffed in a patrol car parked on train tracks reached a settlement for $8.5 million with two towns in her lawsuit.

The plaintiff, Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, suffered injuries including a traumatic brain injury, amnesia, broken bones, and a punctured lung in September 2022, her attorney has said, according to The Denver Post last year. Three officers were at the scene of the crash in Platteville, Colorado, that September 2022: Fort Lupton officers Jordan Steinke and Ryan Thomeczek and Platteville police Sgt. Pablo Vazquez. Thomeczek did not get charged, but Steinke was convicted in a bench trial last year for misdemeanor reckless endangerment and assault, and Vasquez pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment.

The settlement

Eric Ziporin, an attorney for Steinke and Thomeczek, told Law&Crime that responsibility for the $8.5 million of Rios-Gonzalez’s settlement will be split.

“That amount will be split 50/50 between the City of Fort Lupton and the Town of Platteville,” he wrote in an email. “The settlement will be paid by the insurer for both entities.”

“The City of Fort Lupton, the Town of Platteville, and Yareni Rios-Gonzalez have reached a voluntary settlement,” the City of Fort Lupton said in a statement provided to Law&Crime. “This voluntary settlement is to the mutual satisfaction of the parties, recognizes the gravity of this matter, and allows all parties to move forward. The City of Fort Lupton will have no additional comment on the foregoing.”

“In consultation with its insurer, the Town of Platteville has decided to settle its claims with Ms. Rios-Gonzalez,” Platteville police Chief Carl Dwyer said in a statement provided to Law&Crime. “Platteville’s share of the settlement will be paid by its insurance carrier. This decision was in the best interests of the Town and its citizens given the cost, risk, and expenses of further litigating the case. The Town apologizes to Ms. Rios for what occurred to her in September 2022 and the Department remains committed to providing the best service possible for all who reside, visit and travel through our community.”

Rios-Gonzalez’s attorney, Paul Wilkinson, also confirmed the settlement amount to Colorado Fox affiliate KDVR in a Tuesday report.

The night of the crash

Steinke, Vazquez, and Thomeczek responded that night of Sept. 16, 2022, to an allegation that Rios-Gonzalez pulled out a gun during a road-rage incident Rios-Gonzalez was detained and placed on Vasquez’s patrol vehicle — squarely on train tracks.

“Oh, s—!” Steinke said as a freight train approached.

The train wiped Vazquez’s vehicle off the tracks.

Rios-Gonzalez was charged in connection to the aforementioned road rage incident. Having survived the crash, she pleaded no contest to misdemeanor menacing in exchange for 10 hours of community service and avoiding jail under a deferred sentence.

At Steinke’s sentencing last year, Judge Timothy Kerns voiced a plan to sentence Steinke to jail but cited Rios-Gonazlez’s “compassion and grace” in giving the defendant 30 months of supervised probation and 100 hours of public service, according to Denver NBC affiliate KUSA. Vasquez was sentenced to 30 months of supervised probation as well.

More Law&Crime coverage: During police job interview, Florida man blurts out that he abused young girl who ‘probably didn’t know what was going on’




Have a tip we should know? [email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *