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Loveland - April 1, 2015

Wellington residents and officials are reacting angrily to Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez' crass
description of the teenage victim of a recent
fatal train accident in Wellington as "you can't fix stupid."

Last Thursday a group of elected officials and their staff representing area cities and Larimer County
gathered in the Loveland Public Library for the "Northern Colorado Highway 287 Corridor Coalition"
meeting.  On the agenda was Loveland City Manager Bill Cahill to brief the Northern Colorado officials on
Loveland's efforts to reduce noise from train horns passing through urban areas.

During the discussion, it was brought to the attention of the group that the Administrator of the Federal
Railroad Administration had been quoted in a recent news story saying quiet zone regulations would be
reviewed in the near future.   Mayor Gutierrez asked if the group should send a letter highlighting issues
it had with current regulations and the need to reduce train horn noise.  (
see 2008 story on train noise)

Larimer County Commissioner Tom Donnelly said Larimer County would be in support of a letter that
advocated granting engineers greater discretion with regard to volume and duration of horn blasts.   
Donnelly continued that Larimer would not support any recommendation that decreased the overall
power of the horn citing a recent event in Wellington where a teenage girl wearing earbuds was struck
and killed by a train after failing to hear the horn.

In response to Donnelly's comment, Gutierrez stated,
"You can't fix stupid" in apparent reference to 16
year-old Wellington resident Victoria Archibald who died last month while walking on the railroad
tracks.   According to eye-witnesses, she was distracted by a small electronic device and didn't hear the
approaching train's horn.  

Former Poudre School District Board of Education Director and longtime Wellington resident Patrick
Albright told LovelandPolitics,

"I am shocked that an elected official would make such a callous and classless remark regarding the
tragic death of Torry Archibald.  Her death was a painful loss to many in the town of Wellington, and
Mayor Gutierrez's remarks are beneath the dignity of the office he holds, and an embarrassment to
the public he represents.  He owes the family of Miss Archibald and the community of Wellington an
apology. "

Other residents contacted Wellington's mayor hoping the town will make a formal request for an apology
from Loveland's Mayor Gutierrez.  LovelandPolitics was unable to reach Wellington Mayor Jack Brinkoff
prior to publishing this story.  LovelandPolitics did email nearly half of the participants in the meeting
asking for on-the-record comments but only received off-the-record replies confirming the comment was

Not 'Stupid'

According to one family friend and neighbor who was present at the accident scene, Loveland's Mayor
displayed a certain "ignorance" with his comments regarding the circumstances surrounding the
accident.  As
reported by Popular Mechanics, the "doppler effect" can fool someone walking on the tracks
by not creating the noise they might expect to hear from an oncoming train.  

In addition, young Victoria was reported to have been wearing noise cancelling earbuds.  As a near
resident to the tracks already, the theory is she was unable to hear the oncoming train due to the
potential combination of the doppler effect, earbuds, distraction and lastly not being alarmed by the train
whistle which would have been a common background sound.

For his part, Mayor Gutierrez is reported to be claiming he was, in fact, thinking of automobile drivers
who try to drive over tracks once a barrier is down despite the timing of his comment.   Mayor Gutierrez
or anyone else with a comment is welcome to post on our opinion blog (see link upper right corner of
this page.).  

April 2, 2015 Update

After publishing this story we received one version that follows the Mayor's version from David
Krutsinger of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).  Below is his on-the-record response
to our inquiry,

"The teenager's death is a tragedy for all involved. The Loveland Mayor I have come to know, through
the course of this study, is a man who cares deeply about his community.

The assertion you're making is untrue. I believe this is taking his comment out-of-context. My
memory of the Mayor's comment was that it was about people who blatantly ignore train warning
devices. His comment followed another's story about a person who had maneuvered their vehicle
around gates that were down, and lights that were flashing."
Wellington Residents Want Loveland
Mayor to Apologize
Is it OK to be silent?

As with the recent Oklahoma University
fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon racist
song being sung on a university bus,
critics are saying,  "not only what was
said but how it was said, there was
laughter on that bus"

Whether Gutierrez was trying to be
funny or witty, most of the 20 officials
gathered in Loveland's public library
failed to rebuke Gutierrez's comment
and have yet to take a public position on
whether he owes the victim's family a
formal apology.

LovelandPolitics sent an email to more
than half of the meeting participants but
none have agreed to go on record with
their comments.

Below is a list of the public officials and
their staff present at the meeting
according to witnesses,

Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez
Loveland City Manager Bill Cahill
Larimer Commissioner Tom Donnelly
Loveland Councilwoman Joan Shaffer
State Transportation Commissioner
Kathy Gilliland   
Public Works Director Leah Browder   
Loveland City Engineer
Dave Klockeman   
North Front Range MPO Executive
Director Terri Blackmore   
MPO Planner Rebekah Karasko   
Larimer County Transportation Planner
Suzette Mallette  
Boulder Transportation Planner
Kathleen Bracke  
Berthoud Town Administrator
Mike Hart  
CDOT Rail and Special Manager David
Loveland Secretary Rochelle Fernley  
Ft. Collins Planning, Development and
Transportation Deputy Director
Mark Jackson  
Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez