Sep 062011
 
Authors: Matt Miller, Erin Udell

The 17-year-old Colorado State University student who lost her legs after falling from a freight train in Longmont Monday is in serious condition, a statement from the victim’s family said yesterday.

The victim, Anna Beninati, is currently being treated at Denver Health Medical Center, where she was airlifted following the incident.

Kathy Poiry, a Firestone resident and registered nurse, was idling in her car around 1 p.m. Monday as a train passed the Longmont intersection of Third Avenue and Atwood Street when she saw what appeared to be a bag drop from the railcar.

Soon, in the minutes after seeing people rush to the tracks, Poiry learned that it was not a bag after all, but Beninati, a freshman from Sandy, Utah.

“In my mind, I just couldn’t believe it was a person,” Poiry said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Beninati was trying to hop aboard the northbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe train with three male friends when she slipped under, severing her legs at the knees.

Charles Hamilton, 25, of Gillette, Wyo., was identified as the friend who pulled Beninati from underneath the train.

Poiry, who has been a nurse for 25 years, said she kept applying pressure to the wounds while others asked Beninati, who was conscious throughout the ordeal, questions about herself.

“She kept asking if she was going to die,” Poiry said. “We kept saying no, which is good because apparently she’s doing well now.”

“We are grateful to the outpouring of support for our daughter following this horrific accident yesterday,” read a statement released by Beninati’s family. “From the first responders and transport teams, to the hospitals both in Longmont and Denver, we are thankful to everyone who came to her rescue.”

The statement went on to express gratitude to all of the bystanders who helped Beninati at the scene.The others attempting to board the BNSF train were identified and two have been issued citations for trespassing, which will be the extent of the railway’s investigation into the incident, said BNSF Spokesman Andy Williams.

“It’s very dangerous going on our tracks,” Williams said. “And this tragic accident demonstrates that.”
Railroads have their own law enforcement to monitor for trespassing on trains, but are unable to monitor all of the railways, Williams said. BNSF did not have anyone on site at the time.

“We try not to allow anyone to trespass,” Williams said. He added that the railway works with local law enforcement, schools and organizations like Operation Lifesaver to prevent accidents involving trains.
Nationally there are 451 casualties associated with railway trespassing every year.

News Editors Matt Miller and Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Railway Facts

It takes the average freight train traveling at 55 mph more than a mile — the length of 18 football fields — to stop.

All train tracks are private property. Never walk on tracks; it’s illegal to trespass and highly dangerous.

A train can extend three feet or more beyond the steel rail, putting the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the three-foot mark.

Information gathered from Operation Lifesaver, Inc.

Colorado Railway Trespasser Casualities

18
in 2008

5
in 2009

10
in 2010

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