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Six killed when train, SUV collide

Six migrant workers were killed Thursday when their SUV collided with a freight train, authorities said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Six migrant workers apparently leaving jobs on a farm were killed when a freight train collided with a sport utility vehicle driven by a 15-year-old boy near the Kansas state line, authorities said.

The victims were all from southern Texas and had been in the area at least a week looking for work, the State Patrol and two farmers said. Some had worked at farms transplanting onions, which involves stooping and placing young onion seedlings into the ground.

Bill Grasmick, co-owner of Grasmick Inc., said the group told him they were leaving for Denver. Some had worked at his farm Wednesday and spent the night there before heading out Thursday. They had packed their car with food for the trip, but apparently forgot something and headed back, he said.

“I don’t think they liked the work and wanted to move on,” Grasmick said.

Five died at the scene, and another died after being flown to a Denver hospital. The 15-year-old driver, Christopher Cruz, was in critical condition at Denver Health Medical Center.

The collision happened about a half-mile from the farm, at a spot where tracks cross a county road that cuts through fields. BNSF Railway spokeswoman Lena Kent said the crossing is marked by signs but no lights or gates.

It was not clear whether the 15-year-old had a driver’s permit, which would let him drive with an adult in the car, or if he was driving illegally.

“It was clear day, a well-marked train crossing and they pulled in front,” Colorado State Patrol Technician Mike Halpin said.

The Colorado State Patrol identified the dead as: Melissa Resendez, 23, of Combes, Texas; Ventura Becerra, 26, of Harlingen, Texas; Francisco Perez Jr., 36, of Donna, Texas; Cristela Rios, 36, of Donna, Texas, and her children Bud Cruz, 13, and Harley Rios, 14. Prowers County Coroner Joe Giadone said they died of massive trauma.

Granada, a town of 640 people, is about 170 miles southeast of Denver.