Brother Reiring joined our union in January 2018 and worked as a conductor for BNSF.
Fellow SMART-TD member Gary Brunt Jr. of Local 1544 (Maywood, Calif.) has established a memorial fund on GoFundMe in memory of Brother Reiring, with whom Brunt had trained when both hired on as BNSF conductors.
“There wasn’t a time he didn’t speak of how much he would want for his daughter, son, or wife, Angie to have. He will forever be remembered for his sacrifice, duty, and love for his family,” Brunt wrote.
Brother Reiring is survived by his wife of 18 years, Angie Vierra; his daughter, Dixie; and his son, Charles III.
August 31st was a day that would forever change the lives of member David Mitchell (Local 937 in Mart, Texas) and his family. It was the day that he would come home with a diagnosis of COVID-19. By September 7, Mitchell’s wife, Michelle, would begin to show symptoms, and on September 13, she was hospitalized with severe COVID pneumonia. By Sept. 14, all four of the Mitchell kids had been diagnosed as well.
Although David and his kids recovered quickly from COVID-19, Michelle did not. Her health continued to decline and on Oct. 5, she had to be intubated.
“Oct. 6th after picking up my son from Timberview High School following an active shooter at his school, as if I wasn’t under enough stress already, I walked into my wife’s ICU room and touched her leg and her heart stopped,” David said. “Michelle was revived, and shortly after that her kidneys failed and her liver failed.”
Although Michelle’s breathing slowly began to improve, other parts of her did not. The doctors took her off of sedation for three days, but she did not wake up. The doctors then decided to run a CT scan and MRI on both sides of her brain and discovered that Michelle had had multiple strokes on both sides.
David reports that Michelle’s organs are back in working order and that she is recovering slowly. The strokes have caused left-side paralysis and her motor skills have been affected as well. Her largest hurdle is learning to walk again at the rehab facility.
“She still is extremely weak and has paralysis on her left side and needs lots of rehab to get all of her motor skills back. And that’s a fight she’s ready to take on headfirst,” David said.
Alternate Vice President and GCA-927 General Chairperson Scott Chelette, who brought Brother Mitchell’s situation to SMART-TD’s attention, has gotten together with local chairpersons to provide Christmas gifts for David’s children.
“Brother Mitchell was especially appreciative of the fact that the International and the President’s office cared enough to want to help in any way they could. I explained to him that this is what an organization should do for each other, and he and every other member will see us getting back to that way of thinking,” Chelette said.
Local 569 Local Chairperson Lawrence Perkins is collecting Christmas gifts for the family. Gifts can be mailed to Perkins at 412 Rocky Creek Drive, Mansfield, Texas, 76063-8800. Brother Mitchell has three boys — ages 6, 9, and 16; and one daughter, age 14.
During this time, Brother Mitchell has been off work just trying to take care of his family. As a result, finances are tight with him not working, coupled with hospital and rehab bills. A GoFundMe has been set up by David to help the family during this difficult time. Click here to donate.
A union sister is trying to help the most important woman in her life receive the care she needs after two devastating strokes.
Member Jenell Rose of Local 1558 (Bergenfield, N.J.) has started an online fundraiser after her mother Kecia Jordan, the president of Local 1558, had a pair of strokes.
The medical crisis began when Sister Jordan, 51, caught COVID-19 and was unable to work for Rockland Coaches.
“Within a few days of her diagnosis, COVID-19 caused her to have a stroke,” said General Chairperson Richard Finley (GCA-RCL).
Sister Jordan was hospitalized as a result of the first stroke and was receiving care when she had a second stroke. She has been in recovery ever since and three weeks ago entered a rehabilitation facility, Finley said.
“Kecia has been a valued member of our local. Fortunately, she is starting to recover,” Finley said. “She is learning how to do all the basic stuff that we have taken for granted in our lives. Due to this medical condition, this has devastated her financially.”
Sister Jordan not only is a local president. She works with Finley as GCA secretary and is also secretary for LCA RCL1. Most importantly, she’s an inspiration and guiding light for her daughter and fellow union member.
“She is an amazing woman, the biggest heart and forever my number one supporter. I would do anything to have my mother back to her normal self,” Sister Rose wrote on GoFundMe. “I know everything takes time so I’m here for anything & everything she needs. We as the family are doing the best we can to maintain all that she has as well as fixing her home so she’s able to recover as best and fast as possible.”
Local 904 (Evansville, Ind.) S&T Brian Hall reports that the local has opened a GoFundMe page to support CSX yardmaster and Local 1963 (Louisville, Ky.) member Jason P. Melton and his family after his 13-year-old son tragically took his own life on Sunday, Oct. 17. Melton’s son, James “JP”, was born July 1, 2008, in Madisonville, Ky., to Jason P. and Joy Morgan Melton. He is survived by his parents; sister, Lillie Melton; brother, Matthew Melton; grandparents, Alan and Kathy Morgan, Steve and Susan Melton; along with many uncles, aunts and cousins. He was preceded in death by his great-grandparents and brother, Christopher Melton. Visitation will be Wednesday, Oct. 20 from 4 to 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. on Thursday. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21 at Barnett-Strother Funeral Home, with burial to follow. Click here to donate via the GoFundMe page. Click here to leave condolences for the family.
Brother John Pohle, vice president of Local 17 (Marshalltown, Iowa), passed away in the hospital on May 25, 2021, nearly a month after he suffered a critical injury while working April 30 in Union Pacific’s Marshalltown Yard. Brother Pohle, a member of the union for more than 13 years and a local officer since 2012, had been in a medically-induced coma in the weeks since the accident amputated his right leg. LCA-953B had established an online fundraiser for Pohle, his wife and their three sons after Brother Pohle’s injury. That fundraiser remains open to continue to assist them in this time of devastating loss. Follow this link to contribute to the fundraiser on GoFundMe for Brother Pohle. The SMART Transportation Division extends its deepest condolences to Brother Pohle’s family, his friends and especially his brothers and sisters of Local 17, which he helped to lead for nearly a decade.
Our union is in mourning after losing Jose “Joe” Alfaro, a member of SMART Transportation Division for more than 15 years, to the COVID-19 pandemic on Nov. 13. He was 58 years old.
Brother Alfaro was a member of Local 18 in El Paso, Texas, and worked as a trainman/brakeman for Union Pacific. He leaves behind his wife of 22 years, Ruoana and four children: Avan Brian, Mia Brianna, Vanessa and Robert. An online fundraiser has been established by Local 18 Secretary & Treasurer Catarino Montero with the proceeds going to benefit Brother Alfaro’s family. “His wife and kids wanted us to thank you from the bottom of their hearts for your prayers and donations. She is grateful for everything you all have done,” Montero wrote on the GoFundMe page. “We personally wanted to thank everyone for all your donations and help during this time. At the end of the day, we are all a railroad family and unite to help one another out, and during these tough times it has really shown!” When asked to describe Joe, co-workers shared: “Joe always would show up to work with a smile and a genuine greeting, so even if you were having a bad day, he always seemed to bring out the best in you.” “He was a great switchman and better friend.” Follow this link to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there are currently no plans for a memorial service. In lieu of flowers, donations to the fundraiser would be appreciated. SMART-TD offers its sincere condolences to Brother Alfaro’s family as well as his union brothers and sisters in Local 18 and beyond.
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. Click here to donate or to leave your well wishes.
Sad news was reported out of Local 1929 (East St. Louis, Ill.) with the passing of Layla Lynn Thomas, the 2-year-old daughter of member Craig Thomas, after a sudden illness.
Layla was rushed to the emergency room March 18 and diagnosed with Influenza A. Her condition developed into a rare condition called necrotizing encephalopathy. After more than a month in intensive care, she passed away April 23 with family at her side. Thomas, who just joined SMART Transportation Division in January, has not been with Kansas City Southern long enough to qualify for vacation, FMLA or personal time. An online fundraiser at GoFundMe.com has been established to assist Thomas and his family in this time of unimaginable grief. A donation of up to 30 personal leave days for members to help Thomas also has been established by General Chairman Sam Habjan in cooperation with the KCS labor relations manager. “This will take quite some time for Craig to be able to return to work,” said Adam Zink, 1929’s local chairperson. “It would be great to have railroaders help him in his time of need.”
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. Click here to visit the GoFundMe page.