CHICAGO — A Belt Railway of Chicago switchman and UTU member with three years’ service was crushed to death between two rail cars in a hump yard here just after midnight July 25.
Andres Tapia, 34, a member of UTU Local 1597 (Chicago), and working a two-person remote control assignment, reportedly was found between the two cars by fellow workers after his remote control device broadcast an automatic “man down” alert. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to media reports.
Tapia is the fourth UTU member killed in an on-duty rail accident in 2011.
The accident is being investigated by the Federal Railroad Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.
In April, UTU Local 199 (Creston, Iowa) Vice Local Chairperson and conductor Patricia Hyatt, 48, was killed near McPherson, Iowa, when her eastbound freight train pulling 130 loaded coal hoppers collided with the rear of a second BNSF train. The engineer of the train on which Hyatt was working also was killed.
In May, UTU Local 970 (Abbeville, S.C.) member and conductor Phillip E. Crawford Jr., 33, was killed in a rear-end collision involving two CSX freight trains in Mineral Springs, N.C.
In June, UTU Local 1732 (San Jose, Calif.) member and conductor Laurette Lee, 68, was killed when her Amtrak train, the California Zephyr, was hit broadside by a tractor-trailer combination at a highway-rail grade crossing near Reno, Nev.
In 2010, eight UTU members were killed in on-duty rail accidents; the same number as 2009.
For more information on rail safety, click on the following link:
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- FRA NPRM: The truth behind the need for two-person crews
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- SMART-TD, BLET presidents update members following PEB 250