Changes planned at railroad crossing where 5 died

A couple and three of their daughters were killed in a train accident Sunday near Trinidad.
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NEAR TRINIDAD, Colo. (KKTV) -- We're digging for answers about what's going to be done at the railroad crossing where a couple and three of their four daughters were killed. They were on their way to church Sunday when they got hit by an Amtrak train near Trinidad.

The lone survivor of the mini-van, a four year-old girl, is in the hospital with serious injuries.

The crossing only has cross bucks, which is a white 'X'. But that's going to change.

11 News has learned that crossing has been slated for a while to get gates and lights. On Monday, those plans were filed with the state to move forward.

Federal railroad investigators were on scene Monday. State Patrol says the driver failed to yield to the train.

We checked and there have been several other accidents at that specific crossing. A man was killed at that same crossing about six years ago.

"Hopefully there will be some changes made on that railroad crossing," said Cody Koontz, who lives nearby.

11 News first told you in an 11 Call For Action Investigation back in November, that nearly half of the crossings in Colorado have just a white X to warn you of an oncoming train.

Why don't all of our crossings have gates - it comes down to funding.

11 News Reporter Katie Pelton has learned it will cost about $270,000 to put gates and lights in at the Trinidad crossing.

CDOT tells us they started looking into this crossing in late 2013, early 2014.

CDOT says they gave the project plans to Las Animas County in April of this year. County commissioners signed off on it about two weeks ago.

On Monday, the county and CDOT filed the application with the Public Utilities Commission, a state agency that has authority over the safety of all rail crossings.

Officials with the Public Utilities Commission tell 11 News that they have a 30-day notice period now that the application has been filed. The board will review the application and see if any changes need to be made.

After that, the railroad company, BNSF, will be in charge of the work. 11 News asked BNSF how soon this project could be completed. But officials tell us they don't know at this point. We're waiting to hear back. We'll let you know what we find out.

Meanwhile, the town of Trinidad is left reeling over the loss of a beloved family.

"It's going to take us some getting used to and we're going to really miss them because they were the greatest of neighbors and they left a big hole in their church family," said Koontz.

Koontz, the family's neighbor, checked on their home after the accident and said dinner was waiting.

"When we got home, I went over and the most beautiful site - I walked in to her cozy little home and their table was set for dinner. And, she had roasted potatoes in the crock pot, cold water dripping on a watermelon," Koontz added. "This is a family that expected to come home."

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family. As of Monday night, it has raised more than $46,000.

11 News also spoke to Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit organization that travels to schools and events to talk about train safety. They say a train accident is reported every three hours nationwide. To find out more information, click here.