NewsLocal News


Semitruck driver killed when Colorado train derails, spilling train cars and coal onto a highway

Semi-truck driver, Lafollette Henderson, caught under the derailed train died, Colorado State Patrol says
pueblo SO.png
Posted at 4:45 PM, Oct 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-16 19:02:40-04

DENVER — A deadly train derailment near Pueblo shut down both directions of Interstate 25 Sunday.

A semi-truck driver was killed when a train derailed and a bridge collapsed, spewing coal and mangled train cars across I-25, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Gayle Perez told the Associated Press by phone on Monday. He was identified by the Pueblo County Coroner as Lafollette Henderson, 60, of Compton, California.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the derailment caused the railroad bridge that runs above I-25 to partially collapse. No other vehicles were involved, Perez said.

"I am saddened to hear of the death of a truck driver who passed away due to the train derailment and bridge collapse along I-25 in north Pueblo. My prayers are with the family of this truck driver. My team and I will continue to monitor and receive updates on this tragedy in Pueblo," U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted Monday morning.

The derailment occurred near Mile Marker 107 and prompted the closure of the interstate at 4:45 p.m. Half a dozen train cars and the coal they were carrying remain scattered across both lanes of I-25, according to Amber Shipley, a spokesperson with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The train consisted of five locomotives and 124 cars carrying coal. A total of 30 cars derailed.

The state patrol and the sheriff’s office posted photos and videos showing a partially collapsed bridge over the interstate with the semi-truck caught beneath. Additional photos of the scene show several crushed railroad cars and coal on the roadway.

Colorado--Train Derailment
This image provided by the Colorado State Patrol shows a truck caught under a bridge that collapsed during a train derailment across a major highway near Pueblo, Colo., Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. The main north-south highway in Colorado remained closed Monday morning and the Colorado Department of Transportation said it expected an "extended closure." The truck driver was initially said to be trapped in the Sunday afternoon accident along Interstate 25, but authorities said Monday that he had died. (Colorado Highway Patrol via AP)

The NTSB has a team of four investigators on scene. The team comprises specialists in track discipline, mechanical discipline, and railroad operations. As part of this investigation, NTSB investigators will determine the probable cause of the derailment and examine the adequacy of track inspections, oversight of track maintenance, the bridge's structure and maintenance, and any issues with rail equipment.

BNSF Railway on Sunday evening issued the following statement: "BNSF can confirm at approximately 4:30 p.m. CST Sunday, Oct. 15, a train carrying coal derailed on a bridge over I-25 just north of Pueblo, Colorado. There are no reported injuries to BNSF crew. The cause is under investigation. BNSF personnel are on site working with responding agencies to clear the incident as safely as possible."

The Colorado State Patrol said motorists should expect an extended closure of the interstate.

Both directions of I-25 will remain closed from mile marker 110 to Interstate 50 throughout Sunday night and into Monday, the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office said Sunday.

Drivers traveling south from Colorado Springs to Pueblo will be detoured at mile marker 110 to Overton Road into Pueblo. Or they can use Colorado State Highway 115 to Colorado Springs, the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office said.

If you take Overton Road, use Pace Road to get back to the interstate, Pueblo County Sheriff's deputies recommend. That will take you to exit 110.

Driver going north to Colorado Springs will need to exit at I-50 and go west to Penrose and north on Highway 115.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg addressed the incident on social media Sunday evening: "In touch with Gov. Polis and have been briefed by Federal Railroad & Federal Highway Administrations on a BNSF coal train derailment & bridge collapse affecting I-25 near Pueblo, CO. USDOT staff are en route. Travelers should follow local updates about closures & detours."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

CDOT camera footage of train derailment near Pueblo

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.