On July 22 of this year, Local 1715 member Karen Taylor was shot five times in broad daylight while her Charlotte Area Transit Systems (CATS) bus was stopped to unload passengers.
“…just as the last person stepped off of her bus, a man appeared out of nowhere and shot five times into her bus,” Taylor’s daughter, Latavia Clark, wrote on a gofundme page opened for Taylor. “All five shots struck my unsuspecting mother in her head, neck, shoulder and ear. One bullet and bullet fragments are still lodged in her skull.”
Taylor has already had four surgeries and is facing more in the future. The road to recovery is expected to be a long one and the bills are adding up as Taylor’s worker’s compensation claim has been denied.
Just after midnight on April 11, BNSF Railway LCA Secretary and Local Trustee Carlos Barela sustained life-threatening injuries while switching in the Belen Yard in New Mexico.
Local 1168 Local Chairperson Tanner Griffitt and other local chairpersons have organized a GoFundMe account on Barela’s behalf. The page states that due to the severity of his injuries that Brother Barela may never be able to work or provide for himself or his family again.
“We are so grateful for Representative Blake for helping us secure this donation. He has been a huge supporter of our Club, and we appreciate his continued support throughout the year. We also like to thank the SMART Union for their generous donation,” Boys & Girls Club of Sweetwater County CEO Lisa Stewart told Wyo 4 News in an interview.
In addition to representing union members, Blake also represents the state of Wyoming in House District 39.
A GoFundMe online fundraising effort has been created in order to assist a Local 492 member who lost his home in the Camp wildfire that ravaged more than 153,000 acres of Butte County, Calif.
The home of Ervis R. Obregon Jr., a conductor with Union Pacific, was one of the nearly 14,000 residences destroyed by the fire, the most destructive in the state’s history. The fire killed 86 people and was only fully contained Dec. 12 after burning through almost all of November.
“Any help would be appreciated,” Local 492’s Chairperson Trevor Haddix said.
The fundraiser also is assisting Obregon’s fellow TD Local 492 member Vincent Popovich and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers member Swede Hanski. Both of their homes survived the fire, but they still faced severe financial setbacks because of the disaster.
LCA – CSXT Secretary and UTUIA Field Supervisor Chris Fly (Local 1106) is collecting goods of necessity for our union families who are in need in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
“Currently, Wilmington, N.C., in particular, is not accessible. This is where our Brothers and Sisters from SMART TD Local 1105 reside,” Fly said. “I am preparing to facilitate goods of necessity to our union family and their community, which will be collected at my home for now, depending upon the abundance of items received.”
Fly also reports that the Lumberton, N.C. area also has flooding issues and the Lumber River is still rising.
“We have a game plan to serve their need for necessities as well,” Fly said. “A lot of SMART TD Local 1011 members reside in this area.”
Fly is accepting water, canned food, diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies and hygiene items for men, women and children.
These items can be sent to:
1071 Lindsay Rd.
Nashville, NC 27856
“The response from inland communities has been awesome, I may have to rent a U-Haul due to the abundance of necessities donated,” Fly said. “Mainly, we need prayers that the water will subside so assistance can get in. Currently, they are still isolated by the flood waters.”
N.C. State Legislative Director Ron Ingerick is also accepting donations for those affected by the hurricane. So far, Ingerick has reported that two members have lost everything in the flood. He asks that members keep Ryan Forinash (Local 1105) from Wilmington, and Vice Local Chairperson Jeff Hunt (Local 1011) from Lumberton, and their families in your prayers.
SMART TD has activated the disaster relief fund and is collecting monetary donations for members affected. All donations to the fund are used solely for the benefit of TD members who are impacted by natural disasters.
UTUIA President Kenneth Laugel announced Wednesday that his organization was giving $5,000 to relief efforts for members affected by the storm.
“The devastating flooding and the resulting damage in the Carolinas and particularly North Carolina continues to grow as a result of the aftermath from Hurricane Florence,” Laugel said. “It is our hope and desire that this will serve to ease the burden of those who are suffering.”
To donate, checks can be made payable to ‘SMART TD Disaster Relief Fund‘ and can be sent to:
SMART TD Disaster Relief Fund
24950 Country Club Blvd.
North Olmsted, OH 44070-5333
Donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Hurricane Florence and its resulting floods have left behind substantial destruction in North and South Carolina, leading to the loss of life and millions, if not billions, of dollars in damage to property in the Mid-Atlantic region and inland.
Some of those affected by the devastation include our Brothers and Sisters of SMART Transportation Division (SMART TD) who live in the region. This disaster adds a tremendous burden to their lives and the amount of loss that they now must cope with is unimaginable. The silver lining is, and will continue to be, the generosity of citizens around the country who are giving what they can to help those affected to help overcome the effects of this disaster and to reclaim their lives.
We are asking the SMART TD family to rise to the call and give what you can so that the daunting task of starting over and rebuilding can begin. Your generous donation will help lessen the struggle and bring real hope and relief to our SMART TD members who are suffering through this disaster.
Please make your donation to the SMART TD Disaster Relief Fund. All donations to the fund are used solely for the benefit of TD members who are impacted by natural disasters, and are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.
NEWARK, N.J. — Jennifer “Cookie” Doyle reports that SMART Transportation Local 60 will hold a “Railmen for Children” charity bike run July 28. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and goes until 11 a.m., when motorcycle riders will start the run.
The cost of this event is a donation of $20 per person. The ride begins and ends at the Tramontin Harley-Davidson, 482 Hope Blairstown Road, Hope, NJ 07844. Riders will be fully escorted by the Blue Knights NJ8. Food and a live band will be provided after the ride concludes.
All members and locals of SMART are welcome to attend. All signups will be done the day of the event. For questions, contact Doyle at 973-219-2968.
Event T-shirts are available in red, blue, orange and tan for $15 each. See James Tufano or Richie Fryer in Hoboken or email firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name address size and color.
Established by New Jersey Transit conductors and engineers, Railmen for Children brings joy and laughter to more than 300 special needs children each year via the “Santa Claus Express.”
All proceeds from the bike run goes to support the Santa Claus Express.
SMART TD members in Southwest Virginia got together to help the Crewe, Va., Little League put on a memorable opening day for local kids. After the opening ceremonies, SMART members hosted a screening of the movie “Sandlot” for local families.
Proceeds from the fund will be divided evenly among the men’s families as they recover from their injuries, which include fractures, spinal trauma and facial injuries.
A Local 1566 member who said he didn’t want to be named said he went to visit the accident site and couldn’t believe what he saw.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
Online video footage from a drone posted by WHAM TV Channel 13 out of Rochester N.Y. shows a sinkhole underneath the tracks at the accident site. Local authorities said the cause of the derailment was under investigation.
Members have been pulling together to help the families of both men as they begin the road to recovery from their injuries.
“The families have been astonished by the amount of support,” said the Local 1566 member. “We’ve worked with these people — they’re family.”
SMART Transportation Division Local 278 member Kyle Jones and his wife Samantha received devastating news Jan. 14, when their seven-year-old son Ayden was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APML). This is an extremely rare cancer for someone as young as Ayden.
The cancer was found after Ayden had been taken to urgent care with symptoms of the flu. The urgent care thought he had pneumonia and suggested that Ayden be taken to a children’s hospital in South Bend, Ind., where he was diagnosed with APML.
In order to get the best care possible, Ayden went to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis where he started chemotherapy and was placed on a high risk treatment path for APML due to the high number of leukemia and white blood cells found in his system. The path, at its shortest – if everything goes to plan, will include 9 to 12 months of intensive chemotherapy and bone marrow testing.
The early stages of recovery are the most dangerous for Ayden. The cancer cells in his bone marrow have stopped the production of blood clotting agents and the cancer cells in his blood are sending signals to clot throughout his body. Because of this, Ayden is at a high-risk for strokes and does not have any way to stop bleeding. If Ayden can make it out of this window of risk for clotting and bleeding, APML has a 100 percent cure rate. Thus far, Ayden has been responding well to the treatments.
“As a father who has had to deal with both a serious medical issue with one of my children, and as a cancer survivor myself, I understand the mental, physical and financial battle that has been put in front of this family,” said Jerry Gibson, SMART TD’s Michigan state legislative director.
“I was fortunate enough to have so many friends, family and strangers step up and assist with donations and prayers. Knowing you have the support of others allows the family to focus on the important task at hand – getting their loved one healthy and home. Please consider donating to this cause so that Kyle and Samantha can get Ayden back home.”
As you can imagine, this type of care and the need for his parents to be at Ayden’s side pose a significant financial burden, but the generosity of others can help alleviate it. Please do what you can to help Ayden and his family in their time of need.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the Jones family with the financial burden caused by Ayden’s illness. Click here to donate to the GoFundMe account.
Tshirts in support of Ayden (approved by Ayden himself) are also being sold and all proceeds go directly to the Jones family. Sizes range from YXS – 3XL and cost $25. Click here to buy a tshirt.
A memorial fund for Amtrak conductor Mike Cella, a current SMART Transportation Division member out of Local 30 in Florida, and engineer Mike Kempf, a former SMART TD member, who were tragically killed in the line of duty on Sunday, Feb. 4, has been established.
Proceeds from the fund will be used to help their families with expenses as they grieve the loss of these men in the collision of Amtrak 91 with a parked CSX freight train.
A ride on a UTV in September nearly turned fatal for Shane Leach when he severed an artery in his arm and nearly bled to death in the desert.
While out with a friend, Leach’s vehicle tipped on a turn. It rolled onto his arm, pinning it between the UTV and the ground.
About a month in intensive care followed, as did about 15 surgeries in which doctors were able to reconstruct and eventually save his left arm.
“I was in surgery almost every other day just to work on my arm,” the 21-year-old from Las Vegas said.
And Leach, a new hire as a conductor in April for Union Pacific, said that he was about two weeks short of receiving full union benefits when the accident happened.
“It put me in a spot where I had to just figure things out,” he said.
But SMART Transportation Division Nevada State Legislative Director Jason Doering, Local 1117 President Wyatt Kelly, and Vince Ybarra, chairman of Local 1117, in Las Vegas, Nev., and others weren’t going to let Leach figure it out alone. They visited Shane in the hospital before his November discharge and helped to lift his spirits.
“They’ve called and checked in on him,” said Brenna Bristol Leach, Shane’s mother. “He really wants to go back to work, he really enjoyed the culture. The outreach from the guys has solidified that.”
Shane Leach said a recent drive past a local railyard reminded him how he can’t wait to get back aboard.
“I just thought – I loved my job when I got it,” he said. “It was really tough in the hospital to have that taken away. It just motivates me to do as much work as I can to get back.
“It really showed me how much I really enjoy being a railroader.”
Bristol Leach said the doctors who cared for Shane in the hospital have said that he’ll recover use of his arm, but a timeline has not been defined – there’s still physical therapy and orthopedic exams for Leach to power through, which means more time away from work and more stress on his depleted savings.
“It could be six months, it could be less, it could be more,” Bristol Leach said.
But the major surgeries and skin grafts have been successful for Shane, she said, and her son remains upbeat for an eventual return to the railroad alongside his future SMART TD brothers and sisters.
“It really makes me feel good that they haven’t given up on me, and it motivates me to get through the therapy and get back out on the rails,” Leach said.