Three transients hopped aboard a locomotive hauling hazardous materials and went on a dangerous joyride in the western state of Colorado, authorities said.
The three blew the horn and triggered the emergency brakes, bringing the train to a halt in a western Colorado canyon, authorities said. No damage or injuries were reported in the Saturday night incident, but officials said that setting off the brakes could have led to a derailment.
The Garfield County Sheriff's Department and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway say the three got into an unoccupied "helper" locomotive at the rear of the eastbound train.
The two-person train crew called deputies, who found the transients had locked themselves in the cab. Deputies opened the cab with the help of the crew and arrested the three on suspicion of endangering public transportation, trespassing and tampering.
The train held general freight including hazardous materials and was heading from Provo, Utah, to Amarillo, Texas.
Steven Forsberg, a spokesman for the Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad, said he wasn't sure what sort of hazardous material the train was carrying. But he said the term encompasses many low-risk consumer goods, such as perfume.
Forsberg said triggering the emergency brakes makes a derailment more likely, but that in this case there was no mishap. He said the transients were "playing with the brake," and that it was not yet clear how much the suspects knew about how trains work.
Forsberg said the train was about a mile long, though he didn't exactly how many cars were on it.
The suspects were identified as Bradley C. Sanders, 29, David Michael Delvisco, 25, and Mary Ellen Carter, 31. They face four to 12 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against them.
The report says Carter and Delvisco told deputies the three got on the train in Glenwood Springs, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) west of Denver. The train came to a stop about 15 miles (25 kilometers) east of Glenwood Springs.
Sanders also faces a charge of impersonation for allegedly misidentifying himself to authorities.