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1 of 2 Bellingham women found guilty of railroad sabotage sentenced

Railroad crossing arms down with rail cars at a crossing. Whatcom News file photo
Railroad crossing arms down with rail cars at a crossing. Whatcom News file photo

SEATTLE, Wash. — Samantha Frances Brooks, age 28, received her sentence on October 8th after pleading guilty to 1 charge of interference with railroad signaling system.

Brooks was sentenced in US District Court in Seattle to 6 months in custody in a federal detention facility and 3 years of supervised custody. During supervised custody, Brooks will be restricted to her residence except for essential travel and will be monitored with a GPS tracker. She will also be required to perform 200 hours community service.

Brooks and Ellen Brennan Reiche, age 24, were arrested the night of Saturday, November 28, 2020, after they were contacted by law enforcement while placing a ‘shunt’ on BNSF Railway tracks

A shunt is capable of disrupting a system designed to stop trains from crashing into each other or crashing into cars. A car driving through the intersection near a shunt would not have warning that a train was coming. Shunts are said to also trigger an automatic braking system on a train. Emergency braking can cause a portion of the train to decouple from the engine and decoupling has the potential to cause a derailment.

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Brooks pled guilty in July to the charge of interference with a railroad signaling system. Reiche was found guilty of the same charge by a jury on September 9th. Reiche’s sentencing is scheduled for December 17th. The charge comes with a maximum sentence of 20 years in custody.

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