(Henderson, Colorado – July 21, 2018)
A yet-to-be identified rail photography enthusiast was tragically killed Saturday evening at about 7:45 P.M., MDT by the train she was attempting to photograph. The photographer lost her life as she and a number of other railfans were assembled near the Union Pacific Railroad grade crossing of 124th Street in the Brighton/Henderson/Commerce City area of Adams County, CO to film and record the passing of historic UPRR 4-8-4 steam locomotive 844. The vintage train as it was hauling 15 vintage passenger coaches packed with an estimated 700 riders on its return trip of a round-trip excursion to the world-renowned Frontier Days Rodeo in Cheyenne, WY Saturday. The train was scheduled to arrive in downtown Denver by 9:00 P.M., and a fleet of busses had to be rounded up to carry the hundreds of stranded passengers to their destination/departure point as law enforcement and railroad officials attempted to establish exactly who had jurisdiction over what.
The crossing, in the vicinity of U.S. Highway 85, carries two UPRR tracks, a main line and a siding, across the fully signalized road/railway intersection that on a regular day carries up to 10 UP freight trains at a maximum allowable speed of 60 mph.
The movements of steam locomotive #844, in addition to other promotional trips by the Omaha, NE-based railroad, as well as financial and legal responsibilities for such, are cascaded beneath a multi-layered hierarchy of authority intended to function as “ambassadors of goodwill” by Union Pacific. Saturday’s trip was held under the auspices of The Denver Post and its non-profit Denver Post Community Foundation.
Confusion over who was in charge began with UP spokeswoman Kristen South telling The Denver Channel News that “We are working with local authorities to see what happened leading up to the crash,” while Adams County Sheriff’s officers were telling the same news media that “Union Pacific is leading the investigation.”