Bellingham woman sentenced to jail for ‘shunt’ attack on railway tracks

A Bellingham woman was sentenced by Seattle U.S. District Court to one year in prison on Friday for railroad sabotage.

The Seattle federal judge also sentenced 28-year-old Ellen Reiche to three years on probation and 100 hours of community service.

Reiche was one of two people arrested on BNSF Railway tracks near Bellingham, around midnight on November 28, 2020. Reiche was convicted in September 2021 of railway violence for placing a shunt along the tracks near Bellingham.

Shunts can disrupt train signals and lead to derailments. They can also prevent cars from being notified of an arriving train.

“Placing a shunt on active rail tracks puts lives at risk – for drivers preparing to cross the tracks and who might not have a warning light of an approaching train, and for owners in the area. who could be endangered by a train derailment, ”US Attorney Nick Brown said in a written statement. “In this case, the shunt was placed just before the arrival of a train with 97 tank cars loaded with crude oil. Fortunately, the device was discovered and removed before it could cause tragedy.

The FBI has investigated 41 cases of shunts placed along tracks in the North Sound since the start of last year.

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