Memorials to SMART-TD members who died on the job in 2021
Brother Taj Ellis, 46, of Chino, Calif., was making a set-out in La Mirada Yard in Orange County, Calif., at 12:30 a.m. March 3, 2021, when he was fatally injured.
He had been a member of our union since July 2013 and was a conductor for BNSF.
He is survived by his wife, Trinity, and children.
Curtis A. Deines
SMART Transportation Division Local 934 member Curtis A. Deines, 52, a member of our union for more than 20 years, died before dawn on the morning of March 19, 2021, after the SUV he was being transported in was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle on U.S. Highway 2 near Ravenna, Neb.
“Curt was loved by all and will be greatly missed for his big heart and infectious laugh,” his family wrote of the BNSF conductor and member of our union since September 2000. “The role Curt played in each of our lives will never be forgotten.”
Brother Deines is survived by his wife, Sonya; his son, Colin Deines, and Colin’s girlfriend, Catie Williams; daughter, KayLeah King, and her husband, Robert; two grandchildren; his parents; his sister, Staci John, and her husband; two nieces; and a number of in-laws and other relatives.
Buddy L. Strieker
Buddy Lee Strieker, an officer of Local 219 (Hannibal, Mo.) for the vast majority of his 24-plus years with our union, died as a result of a switching accident on April 7 in Louisiana, Mo. He was 56 years old.
Brother Strieker was vice local chairperson of LCA-001A and the secretary/treasurer of his local for more than two decades. A trainman/brakeman for BNSF, he also served as an LCA secretary and as a delegate for his local at the Second SMART Transportation Division Convention in 2019.
Brother Strieker was a veteran of the U.S. Army. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Lisa; his son, Matthew; a granddaughter; two step-grandchildren; three brothers; two sisters and other relatives.
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.
He is survived by his wife of 13 years, Tess; his sons: Carter Pohle, Landon Elliott and Austin Elliott; and numerous other relatives.
Brother Karl Middlemas, 62, of Local 807 (Tucson, Ariz.) a member of our union for more than 13 years, died when the crew van he was being transported in collided with a tractor-trailer late on July 6.
Brother Middlemas hired on in 2007 and most recently served as a conductor for Union Pacific. He enjoyed restoring and repairing classic Mopars.
Joshua A. Morstad
Local 1261 in Atlanta is mourning the loss of a longtime local chairperson. Joshua Allen Morstad, 39, passed away Sunday, July 11, 2021, three days after he was injured in an automobile accident while traveling home from work.
Brother Morstad was a loyal member of our union for 20 years, local chairperson of LCA-169A (Central of Georgia) since May 2015 and an engineer for Norfolk Southern.
“Josh was loved, respected, a friend to all, and will be missed by his family, friends and co-workers,” General Chairperson James E. Stewart Jr. of GCA-169 wrote.
Brother Morstad enjoyed being outdoors, hunting, fishing, golf and playing sports with his children. He had a fierce love for his family and always made sure they were cared for. He is survived by his wife, four sons and an unborn son who is due Sept. 7, 2021. Other survivors include his parents, brother and in-laws as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, and extended family and friends.
In his last selfless act, Brother Morstad was an organ donor and gave of himself so that others may live.