PERRY: RTD, Aurora cops grab the turd rail in dodging R Line amputation calamity


Despite what Aurora Police and RTD say, or don’t say, having a commuter train derail, throw passengers around, one out the door of the moving train, causing her foot to be removed from her body, is a damned big deal.

No thanks to RTD or the cops, here’s what we do know happened on a snowy Jan. 28 Monday morning.

At about 7:15 a.m. police were called to South Sable Boulevard and East Exposition Avenue because the R Line train had derailed. RTD tweeted it out as “an accident.” Police retweeted the RTD tweet.

In these modern social media days, that’s how government rolls. From the White House on down, all officials think you need to know fits in a 280-character missive. Thank your lucky social media stars that Twitter doubled its character limit in 2017, or the public would know only half of what little they do.

Naturally, “RTD” and “derailment” get the attention of the media and the public who are unsurprisingly concerned about such things.

The official word from cops and RTD was that during some kind of derailment thing, the train left the tracks. Someone was “ejected,” and “seriously injured,” there was a traffic problem, and the train was not going to be running for a while.

That’s it.

As you can well imagine, curious and pesky reporter types had a few questions.

Among them: Are you freaking kidding me? The R-Line derailed? As in, the damned train jumped the tracks?

Is this a thing? I mean, I see these trains running all over Aurora and Denver all the time. In fact, I ride these things. Police and RTD were saying — with all the verve that they would have announced the “bus is going to be a little late today”  — that the train had not just left the station, but the tracks entirely.

It gets worse. Not only did the damn thing jump the tracks, police said, it came off the rails while turning a corner across one of Aurora’s busiest streets. At rush hour. During a snow storm.

This can happen, folks.

If you were thinking that this barely 2-year-old wonder of technology has built-in, I don’t know, safety devices to keep whoever’s driving the thing from taking corners too fast, like it’s a damned go-cart or something, apparently that may not be the case. We don’t know, because nobody’s saying. The only thing officials are saying is whether “weather” or “speed” might be a consideration in two separate investigations.

Perhaps RTD is unaware that, here in Aurora, we frequently have weather. As we’re learning in dribs and drabs, these trains are still capable of more speed than the trains, the tracks or the driver’s skill can handle.

Next question? “What do you mean, “ejected?”

That question got a big “no comment” from cops and RTD officials alike. Did they mean that someone fell from the train? Was mama thrown from the train? Lept from the roof? Dove through a window? Launched through a ceiling vent?

Without being provided any facts, the public was at first just left to their imagination.

Same goes with the health of the person ejected from the train. The person was “seriously” injured, police said.

After several, “ongoing investigation” brush-offs later, other passengers on the train started filling in the blanks for area newspapers and TV stations.

Passenger Jeremiah Jasso told the Denver Post he was “suddenly flung from his seat, ‘did a front flip’ and his head likely would have hit a window if the person across from him didn’t catch him.”

Another passenger, Terry Edick said he, too, was thrown from his seat. He told The Denver Channel 7 that the train was going too fast for the turn.

He said a woman was thrown out of her seat up against the doors of the train, which popped open, she went flying out, and her foot was caught under the train.

“Her foot was absolutely amputated off her leg,” Edick told Channel 7. “It was completely cut off.” Two other passengers told reporters the same thing.

Police didn’t. Neither did RTD officials. If either of these groups try and pass this off as a medical privacy issue, I’ll camp in front of the state Capitol until state lawmakers force cops and RTD to stop that crap or clarify that the excuse is as stupid as it sounds.

Instead, police said they and fire officials provided first aid at the scene. Apparently, they had to keep the woman from bleeding to death while someone hunted in the snow for her missing foot.

A concussion is a serious injury. A broken leg is a serious injury. An amputated foot is disaster, folks. Despite police and RTD saying, “there’s no story here, move along,” a woman was thrown from a derailed light-rail RTD train in Aurora and her foot was cut off from her leg.

That’s a helluva story and a helluva problem for RTD.

Ridership on Aurora’s new R Line has been sucking air since the train started up in 2016. Throwing passengers from the train, dismembering them and going all quiet about it is not a good marketing strategy to turn that around.

I get that neither police nor RTD would want to jump to conclusions like a train can leave the tracks about what caused the R- Line to head down the un-railed part of the street. Go ahead and investigate the living crap out of that.

But you don’t have to be a climate scientist to stipulate that this poor woman’s foot didn’t spontaneously decide to depart from the rest of her body. Nor is it likely that her dismembered foot was a pre-existing condition.

Are Colorado governments taking public-relations tips from China these days? Kellyanne Conway?

Start talking, RTD. Someone bought a ticket for the R Line and ended up maimed for life on a train that can apparently leave the tracks at will.

Officials can fill in the sordid details after a long and leisurely inspection, but at least tell the public the gist of what happened so they can decide for themselves whether to have faith in their demure transit and public safety government or take an Uber.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]