Woman apparently did not hear train that killed her
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
SILT, Colorado – Authorities say Ashley Nicole Vale, killed by a fast-moving Amtrak passenger train on March 17, apparently did not hear the westbound train coming despite the blaring of the horn and the screech of brakes as engineers tried desperately to warn her.
“The statement from the Amtrak engineers said she was walking westbound on the tracks and she never turned around,” said Deputy Garfield County Coroner Lanny Grant.
Vale was walking alone down the tracks, wearing ear buds for a portable electronic device, and may have been listening to music while she walked, Grant said.
She died instantly from the impact, suffering “multiple examples of blunt force trauma” caused by the impact of a train moving at 70 miles per hour.
“The manner of her death is officially undetermined,” he said. Investigators are still trying to learn why she was on the tracks.
He said a toxicology screening was conducted, but the results will not be known for weeks.
Grant said local authorities are awaiting video records from Amtrak. The train engineers reported that “as soon as they became aware of the person on the tracks, they hit the horn and applied the emergency brakes,” Grant said.
But there was not enough distance for the nine-car train, carrying 179 passengers, to stop in time, he said.
Vale, 27, reportedly was staying with family in Silt and had gone for a solitary walk.
“The information from the family is that she needed to go for a walk,” Grant continued, adding that there was no indication as yet that Vale was emotionally distraught.
She wasn’t identified until Monday.
Grant said Vale was carrying no identification. “We didn’t know who she was until Monday afternoon,” he said, when a fingerprint analysis brought up her name.
At roughly the same time on Monday, Vale’s family was in the process of filing a missing person report.
“The two just sort of came together,” he said, when authorities realized that Vale was the subject of the family’s report.
The accident remains under investigation.
Grant noted that none of the passengers on the train were injured when the engineers slammed on the brakes.
“It happens a lot faster than you would imagine,” Grant said of the sequence of events that killed Vale.
He said during the investigation, he was on the tracks at one point when a westbound freight train approached at 45 miles per hour.
The slower speed, he said, was arranged to permit him and another deputy to spend time on the tracks looking for anything that might have a bearing on the case.
Still, he said, “it was probably less than 90 seconds before the train reached the scene, even at 45 miles an hour.”
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