Our union is in mourning after losing two of its active members this week: one in a work-related fatality and one in a traffic accident.
Ryan Sandy, 37, a member of Local 662 (Richmond, Va.) and a former local chairperson of LCA-201C, was killed in an on-the-job accident at 2:45 a.m., Monday, Oct. 12 in the Acca Yard in Henrico County, Va.
Sandy had been a member of SMART Transportation Division since February 2009 and worked as a conductor for CSX.
“We are all shocked and saddened by his passing,” fundraiser organizer Michael Carter posted. “It’s now our turn to give back and help his wife and their children as they deal with the loss of their loving husband and father.”
A number of worker fatalities over the past two years involving union workers went without an NTSB-led investigation, a situation that SMART-TD leadership made clear needed to be changed.
Across the country, Local 556 (Tacoma, Wash.) is mourning the loss of one of its officers.
Clayton Hoffman III, general chairperson of GCA-TMB (Tacoma Municipal Beltline) and local chairperson of LCA-TMB1, died in a fatal traffic accident Oct. 9. He was 43 years old.
The circumstances of GC Hoffman’s death are being investigated. He had been a member of the union since April 2004. He became GC on Oct. 1, 2012, and immediately set to work, said current Local 556 President Bill Price.
“During his time, Clayton negotiated one of the best contacts in shortline history for his members and brought those members to a livable wage,” Price said.
Price said that Hoffman served as a fierce representative of his fellow members and will be missed.
Local 556 brother Kody Henderson, local chairperson of LCA-001a, had this to say about his fallen brother:
“He was union leadership powerhouse and a union leader I looked up to. He was there when I initially took office in 2015 and helped guide me through this local chairman position. We would speak often, and as time went on we would reconnect to share stories and discharge stresses of dealing with management to one another.”
Brother Hoffman is survived by his brother, his sister and his mother.
“Clayton will be missed by all here at Local 556,” Price said.
The SMART Transportation Division offers its condolences to the relatives, friends and the brothers and sisters of Locals 662 and 556 on the passing of Brothers Sandy and Hoffman.
SMART Transportation Division member Curtis C. McConihay of Local 1386 (Parkersburg, W.Va.) was killed in an accident on CSX property in Washington, W.Va., on Saturday.
Brother McConihay, 32, was a U.S. Marine veteran and lived in Southside, W.Va., with his wife, Megan, and their two daughters. He joined SMART-TD in May 2015 and was a conductor for CSX.
“We lost not only a dedicated employee, but a forever union brother in C. C. McConihay. Our pain pales in comparison to the void that is left in his loved ones’ hearts. It is a void that can never be filled,” said Local 1386 Chairperson W.R. Parsons. “Please let us keep his family in our thoughts and prayers, as his family is now our family. We will keep his memory alive by remembering the good times as we are better people for knowing him. God bless his wife Megan and his precious daughters. Rest in peace, Brother Curtis McConihay.”
Parsons said a memorial fund is in the works for Brother McConihay’s family.
SMART-TD National Safety Director Jerry Gibson has requested that the National Transportation Safety Board launch an investigation into the accident due to divergences in the reports of the circumstances surrounding the fatal accident. Gibson continues to be in contact with the agency.
CSX and the Federal Railroad Administration are currently the only parties investigating.
However, Gibson states that an internal report into the incident will be performed by SMART-TD.
SMART-TD offers its sincere condolences to Brother McConihay’s family and friends and to the members of Local 1386 who worked with him and knew him.
Brother Chris Seidl of Local 1227 (Wichita, Kan.) was struck and killed by a train car the night of Dec. 3 while performing service in a yard in north Wichita. He was an employee of Wichita Terminal Association, which is jointly owned by BNSF and Union Pacific.
He had been a member of SMART-TD since October 2018.
He is survived by his parents, Steve and Kathy, brothers Chuck, Corey and Chad. He is the father of three children: Wyatt, Adison and Brody. He was engaged to fiancée Jody Hagen.
Brother Robert “Rob” J. Hemling, 39, of Randolph, Wis., and a member of Local 590, died in a train accident March 27 in Sparta, Wis.
Brother Hemling, a conductor for Canadian Pacific, was working at Cedar Creek Lumber when he was killed. Police and media reports did not provide details about the circumstances of the accident.
He began working for the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad before joining Local 590 in 2003.
He is survived by his wife, Megan; his two daughters, Madelynn and Savannah; parents, Randy and Kathy Hemling of Beaver Dam; his siblings, Rachel (Corey) Bradley of Beaver Dam, Andy (Shelly) Hemling of Randolph and Aleshia (Clint) Redeker of Randolph; parents-in-law, Terry and Betty Boomsma of Beaver Dam; a sister-in-law, Tara (Justin) Kienast of Burnett; grandmothers, Evelyn Schumacher of Randolph and Lucy (Gordon) Braaksma of Randolph; a step-grandmother, Deb Stiemsma of Randolph; nieces and nephews, Cole, Brandi, Hunter, Emma, Griffin, Paisley, Aidan, Kate, Alayna, Taylor, Brody, Kaiden and Sam; aunts, uncles, other relatives and friends.
Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 2, 2018, and on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, from 10 a.m. until an 11 a.m. funeral service at First Reformed Church, 406 S. High St., Randolph, with Pastor Linda Heisler officiating. Burial will follow in Randolph Cemetery.
Union Pacific switchman, Jon Paul Beckman, 48, was killed when he was struck by a train Friday, Sept. 22. He was working in Arlington, Texas when the accident occurred.
Beckman was a member of Local 243 in Ft. Worth, Texas, for 19 years. He served the local as president since 2007 and local chairperson since 2012, and was also the local’s delegate.
Visitation for Brother Beckman has been set for Thursday, October 5 from noon to 9 p.m. at Kinsley Mortuary, 1006 Broadway, Marysville, KS 66508. The family will receive friends from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. A funeral service will be held, Friday, Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. Burial will be private.
A memorial fund has been established. Contributions may be sent in care of Kinsley Mortuary.
SMART TD extends its deepest condolences to the Beckman family and to all who knew him.
Click here to read the official obituary or to give condolences to the family.
Pictured from left: Beckman, Former Local 243 Chairperson James McKibben, SMART TD President Emeritus Mike Futhey and Local 243 Chairperson Cameron Cullum. Photo submitted by Local 243.
Troy J. Jordan, 49, of Shawnee, Kansas died in an accident while working on Union Pacific property in Kansas City, Kan. Sept. 29, 2015.
After high school, Jordan graduated from Central Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Jordan hired out with Union Pacific railroad in 2008 and became a member of SMART Transportation Division Local 1403 (Kansas City, Mo.) that same year. Jordan was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Parish and was proud of his Irish heritage.
Jordan leaves behind his wife of nine years Dorothy, children McKinsey, Tyler, Shannon, Emilee, Brianna Smith, Tori (Grant) Frazier, parents Bobbie and Joe, grandchildren Brooklynn Smith, Tucker Smith, Kinadee Frazier and Carson Frazier.
Visitation will be 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4 at the Amos Family Funeral Home, 10901 Johnson Dr., Shawnee, KS 66203. A Mass of Christian burial will be held 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 5 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 11311 Johnson Dr., Shawnee, KS 66203. Interment will follow at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, also in Shawnee. Memorial contributions may be made to the family in care of Amos Family Funeral Home.
Click here to see Jordan’s obituary and to leave condolences.