Widows Sue After Arizona Train Crash Kills Border Patrol Agents

Widows Sue After Arizona Train Crash Kills Border Patrol AgentsThe wives of two Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents who died last May following a train accident have sued the railroad and others, the Yuma Sun reports.

According to the media outlet, the vehicle in which the men were traveling was allegedly struck by a freight train in the desert near Gila Bend. The lawsuit, which also named the irrigation district that owns the land crossed by the tracks, was filed on Friday, March 3, in Pima County Superior Court.

Union Pacific Railroad Co. and Paloma Irrigation and Drainage District are named as defendants in the wrongful deaths of agents Hector Clark and Eduardo Rojas. The accident took place on May 12, 2011.

Although damages are not specified in the lawsuit, the family's wrongful death lawyer filed a notice of claim against the irrigation district that asked for $17.5 million for each death. The notice of claim was required before the lawsuit could be filed, as the irrigation district is a government entity, according to the news source.

The lawsuit states that Clark, 39, and Rojas, 34, were assisting state and federal law enforcement officers find a group of potential drug smugglers when they were killed. The agents were driving alongside the tracks where a 1.5 mile-long train was parked just before an unprotected railroad crossing, located near Paloma Road and Exit 106 of Interstate 8.

According to the suit, the parked train looked as if it were on the main, single track, rather than the siding next to the track. The optical illusion kept Clark and Rojas from seeing a second, 75-car train that was traveling on the tracks at more than 60 mph. Upon turning across the tracks at the crossing, their vehicle was broadsided by the train.

Both agents were pronounced dead at the scene.

The attorney for the families of Clark and Rojas noted in the lawsuit that the crossing had been the site of six crashes since 1984, including one instance in 2003 when a 24-year-old man was killed in a very similar fashion.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the 2003 accident occurred in July when a semi-truck driver crossed the tracks and was struck by an oncoming train.

The attorney stated that the families hope the crossing is made safer.

"What my clients want more than anything… is to fix the crossing," he said. "They don't want this to happen to another family."