Memorials to SMART TD members who died on the job in 2022

Emily Anne Herrera

Sister Emily Anne Herrera (née Purcell), 26, a member of Local 262 (Boston, Mass.) who worked as a conductor for Amtrak, passed away January 15 after a fall while on duty at Westerly Station in Rhode Island.

She is survived by her husband, Christopher, a member of Local 1462 in Boston who also is an Amtrak conductor; two stepsons, Chris and Noah Herrera; and two daughters-in-law, Brenda and Arianna.


Jeff Jones

SMART Transportation Division member Jeff Jones of Local 202 (Denver, Colo.) passed away on Feb. 9, 2022, after a switching accident in Globeville rail yard in Denver.

Brother Jones, of Northglenn, Colo., was a member of our union for more than a decade, joining in August 2011, and worked as a conductor for BNSF. In addition to Local 202, he previously was a member of Locals 945 (La Junta, Colo.) and 113 (Winslow, Ariz.).


Ethan Rivera

Ethan Rivera, 41, a member of our union since May 2021, died Feb. 12, while being treated in a Charlotte hospital for a gunshot wound.

Rivera, a member of Local 1715 (Charlotte, N.C.), had four passengers aboard his Charlotte Area Transit System bus when shots came from an SUV, police said. Rivera was hit by the gunfire and taken to a hospital for treatment. No injuries to passengers were mentioned in media reports about the incident. A suspect in the shooting was arrested in early March at a gas station in Shawnee, Kan., the Charlotte Observer newspaper reported.

“Ethan was well-liked and respected and you could not find anyone to say a negative word about him. He was a fun-loving man who always had a smile on his face,” said General Chairperson Joseph Paglia (GCA-TMD). “Ethan Rivera will be sorely missed and never forgotten. Rest in peace our friend and brother.”

Paglia said that Brother Rivera is survived by two children who were his life and that he strived to be the best father he could be.


Ryan Jones

SMART-TD Local 446 (Cheyenne, Wyo.) mourns the loss of Ryan Jones, 33, who died of a cardiac event while on the job July 28.

A conductor and local trustee (2018-20), Jones loved working for Union Pacific. According to his obituary, “Ryan was determined to follow his life passion of working on the railroad and in 2014 he was excited to join Union Pacific Railroad.” Before obtaining his conductor’s license, Jones worked in Rock Springs and Cheyenne.

“Ryan’s greatest joy was blasting the horn and waving at the little kids when-ever he had a chance,” his obituary said.


Mario Navarro

Mario Navarro, 49, a SMART-TD member out of Local 18 (El Paso, Texas), died late Aug. 29 after a pair of rail cars derailed in an accident in Union Pacific’s Alfalfa Rail Yard during a shoving movement.

Brother Navarro was an 11-year member of our union and worked as a conductor for UP.

“He was not just our co-worker, but our brother as well. I cannot describe how this hurts,” Local 18 Secretary & Treasurer Catarino Montero wrote on the online fundraiser page. “I would like for everyone to please pray for his family. They need it more than ever.”

Mario is survived by his wife, Monique, son, Matix, daughter, Mia, and chocolate lab, Hazel. He leaves behind his father David Navarro, mother, Elizabeth Flores, and many family members and friends who will miss him dearly.


Zach Lara

Local 1846 in West Colton, Calif., tragically lost a brother on Sept. 8.

Conductor Zachery “Zach” Lara, 25, and his engineer Steven Brown were in helper service assisting a train up a grade. When they made a reverse move into Bertram siding to put their engine away, the crew had a head-on collision with cars that were in the siding.

This heartbreaking accident has taken a friend and co-worker away from many of us, but the loss is being especially felt by his father Jeff Lara (Local 1422, Los Angeles), and his brother, Kevin Lara (Local 1813, West Colton, Calif.), who, like Zach, work for Union Pacific Railroad.


Walter James Griffin III

Walter James Griffin III, 43, a conductor trainee from Hueytown, Ala., was killed December 13, 2022, in Bessemer, Ala., in an at-work accident.

Griffin III, of Local 622 (Birmingham, Ala.), was struck by a metal beam that pierced into the cab of the Norfolk Southern locomotive he was in and died at the scene.

He is survived by his wife, Sherita Fields.