Police seek arrest warrant for driver of RTD R Line train that derailed, injured 9

Posted at 12:49 PM, Feb 19, 2019

AURORA, Colo. – Police say they have filed nine arrest charges against the driver of the RTD R Line light rail train that the company says was going too fast before it derailed in a snow storm Jan. 28.

Jeremiah Hartzell, 33, is being investigated for one count of first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault and five counts of third-degree assault.

The charges stem from the injury of nine people aboard the train.

RTD said on Feb. 15 it fired the driver of the train because speed appeared to a “primary factor” in the derailment.

RTD said it found the operator was not following safety protocol. A passenger was ejected from the train and suffered a “serious bodily injury,” police said.

Witnesses said the woman who was ejected was thrown out of her seat and up against the door. The hinges on the door then popped open, she fell out and one foot was caught underneath the train.

The R Line train derailed at the intersection of South Sable Blvd. and East Exposition Ave. at about 7:15 a.m. on Jan. 28.

The train had been going south on Sable and turning onto Exposition when it came off the tracks.

The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Centennial will review the arrest charges and decide whether to file formal charges against Hartzell.

That decision is expected to be made within several days.

Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to show that RTD did not determine the operator in question "acted as trained ... and stopped the train" as that was rather in reference to the operator of a train headed in the opposite direction.