Norfolk Southern conductor Larry McVay, 43, caught a bad break Jan. 3 when he lost his right arm and right leg in a horrendous switching accident near Lafayette, Ind.
His brothers and sisters in UTU Local 768 and UTU NS General Committee of Adjustment 687 — and others who read and heard about the accident — know, but by the grace of God, it could have happened to them. They were also deeply moved by a previous tragedy that befell McVay and his wife, Lisa: the 2008 death of their daughter in an automobile accident.
Within days of the Jan. 3 switching accident, a benefit fund was established for the McVay family of Dalton City, Ill.
His brothers and sisters in Local 768 and NS General Committee 687 didn’t stop there.
Recently, Local 768 member Craig Wilson opened the tavern he owns in Decatur, Ill., for a silent auction to encourage further donations to the McVay benefit fund.
Dubbed Larry-palooza, it was a lollapalooza of an event, organized by NS General Committee 687 Senior Vice General Chairperson Dan Calhoun, who coordinated donations of more than 100 items — from local businesses, friends, coworkers, other UTU members and UTU designated legal counsel — for the auction.
There were few dry eyes when fellow conductor Jacob Baines — one of Local 768’s newest members — was recognized as a hero and warmly thanked by McVay and his wife, who were in attendance.
Had it not been for Baines’ prompt actions at the time of the accident — when Baines was serving as a conductor trainee — it is said that McVay would not have survived. Baines was promoted to conductor shortly after the accident.
“In today’s world of so much negative news, this event surely reiterates the good of human nature and the value of UTU brotherhood,” said NS General Committee 687 Chairperson Jason Boswell.
Donations are still being accepted, and may be sent to the Larry McVay Benefit Fund c/o Land of Lincoln Credit Union, 2890 N. Oakland Ave., Decatur, IL 62526. More information may be obtained from the credit union by calling (217) 875-1300.
Those with PayPal accounts may also make contributions through the PayPal website by sending funds to the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured below: Injured NS conductor and Local 768 member Larry McVay, surrounded by some of his caring brothers.
From left, with McVay, are Local 768 member Craig Wilson, at whose tavern the silent auction was held; Local 768 conductor Jason Baines, credited with helping to save McVay’s life; UTU International Vice President Delbert Strunk; NS General Committee 687 Senior Vice General Chairperson Mark McKee; NS General Committee 687 Senior Vice General Chairperson Dan Calhoun, who organized the silent auction; and NS General Committee 687 Chairperson Jason Boswell.
A memorial fund has been established for the three killed in a collision between a shuttle-van and freight train in Kelso, Wash., March 23.
A second fund was established to assist a UTU-member and conductor critically injured in the accident.
Killed in the collision at a private highway-rail grade-crossing were BNSF conductor-trainee Christopher Loehr, 28; BNSF locomotive engineer Thomas Kenny, 58; and van driver Steven Sebastian, 60. Critically injured was BNSF conductor Dwight Hauck, 51, a member and trustee of UTU Local 324, Seattle.
Hauck, Loehr and Kenny, who had brought a BNSF freight train from Seattle to Kelso, were passengers in the BNSF-provided shuttle van driven by Sebastian when it was hit by a BNSF freight train at the crossing. A Federal Railroad Administration investigation is underway to determine the cause of the accident.
Donations to the memorial fund will be divided equally among the families of Loehr, Kenny and Sebastian. They should be sent to:
BNSF Memorial Fund 2011
Cascade Federal Credit Union
4035 23rd Ave.
Seattle, WA 98199
Donations to the fund to aid the injured Hauck and his family should be sent to:
Dwight Hauck Fund
Wells Fargo Bank
999 3rd Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104