MASON CITY, Iowa – Trainman Georgiy Soloviyov, 35, became the fifth UTU member killed on duty in 2012 following a Union Pacific yard accident here early July 31. Mason City is some 130 miles north of Des Moines, near the Minnesota border.

Soloviyov, of Stanhope, Iowa, and a member of UTU Local 867 (Des Moines) had seven years of service. Reports indicate he was part of a three-person conventional switching crew when pinned between two cuts of freight cars.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration are investigating, with assistance from the UTU Transportation Safety Team.

Four UTU rail members have been killed in accidents in 2012 and a bus member was murdered on the job. Ten UTU members were killed in on-the-job rail accidents in 2011, and eight in 2010.

George, as he was known, was a native of Kiev, Ukraine, who married an American serving there as a missionary. They relocated to the United States and George earned his American citizenship in 2004. Surviving, in addition to his wife, Lori, are two sons, Yuri and Aleksei, and two daughters, Tatyana and Katya.


During the month of May, one UTU member was killed  in North Dakota in a rail switching accident, another was murdered on his bus route in Los Angeles, and another lost a foot in Missouri in a yard switching accident.

On CP Rail (Soo Line) in Kenmare, N.D., conductor Robert J. Glasgow, 38 (UTU Local 887, Harvey, N.D.) died May 28 while setting out cars as part of a two-person crew at a CP yard. Kenmare is some 50 miles northwest of Minot.

Initial reports are that Glasgow had mounted the lead car of 28 cars being switched conventionally when the lead car sideswiped other cars. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital following evacuation by a local emergency medical crew. The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating.

Glasgow, of Minot, N.D., who had six years’ service as a maintenance-of-way employee, had been a conductor for some 10 months.

Los Angeles County Metropolitican Transportation Authority (LACMTA) bus operator Alan Thomas was shot to death May 20 aboard his coach in Los Angeles. Click on the following link to learn more about that fatal shooting:

On BNSF in Crystal City, Mo., some 40 miles south of St. Louis, brakeman Mike J. Bolen, 50, reportedly tripped while walking alongside eight cars being conventionally switched and suffered severe trauma to his right leg when struck – but not run over — by one of the moving cars. Hospital physicians reportedly later amputated the brakeman’s right foot. The FRA is also investigating this May 28 accident.

Bolen, of Jackson, Mo., had eight years’ service and is a member of UTU Local 947 (Chaffee, Mo.)

Glasgow is the second UTU rail member killed on duty in 2012. Local 1383 (Gary, Ind.) member Michal M. Shoemaker, 55, was killed in a switching accident Jan. 30 in Gary, Ind.

Ten UTU rail members were killed on duty in calendar year 2011, eight in 2010 and eight in 2009.

For information on rail safety — including rail yard safety — click on the following link:

BURLINGTON, Ont. – Three Canada VIA Rail crew members riding in the lone locomotive of a five-car passenger train died in a derailment here Feb. 26.

More than 40 passengers and another crew member were injured, many seriously. News reports indicate the fourth crewmember suffered minor injuries.

Burlington, on a shoreline of Lake Ontario, is some 40 miles southwest of Toronto and some 70 miles northwest of Buffalo. The passenger train was enroute to Toronto from Niagara Falls.

The VIA Rail train was operating over tracks of Canadian National.

The locomotive, with the three crew members in the cab, reportedly slid violently into a building alongside the tracks. The dead crew members were identified as Ken Simmonds, 56, and Peter Snarr, 52, both of Toronto, and Patrick Robinson, 40, of Cornwall.

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board was dispatched to begin an investigation as to the cause of the deadly derailment.

GARY, Ind. – Michael M. Shoemaker, 55, a conductor and member of UTU Local 1383, was killed Jan. 30 in a switching accident on at U.S. Steel’s Gary Works here. Reports are that he was wedged between two freight cars.
Shoemaker, of Hobart, Ind., was an 10-year employee, of Gary Railway, which is owned by U.S. Steel.
Reports indicate he was working as a foreman in a three-person conventional switching operation when the car he was riding “impacted the side of the standing equipment that the crew had placed” on an adjacent track, pinning him.
The accident is being investigated by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Shoemaker is the first UTU member to be killed in a rail accident in 2012. In 2011, there were 10 rail fatalities among UTU members; and 12 in 2010.

A fund has been established for the family of Local 1957 member Stacy Rieger, a BNSF conductor, who was killed Dec. 18 when his head reportedly struck a bridge beam while leaning over the railing of his moving locomotive’s side running board in an attempt to check the fuel level in a fuel-tank sight glass.
Local 1957 member Caleb Butler set up a benefit account in Stacy’s name at Community Bank to aid Rieger’s family. Community Bank is located at 645 North 5th St., Silsbee, TX 77656-4040. The phone is (409) 386-6058; the account number is 51036468.
Rieger’s wake is Wed., Dec. 21, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Broussard’s Funeral Home in Silsbee, Texas.  The funeral will be Thurs., Dec. 22, at 4 p.m at Crestwood Baptist Church on Highway 69 in Lumberton, Texas.
Rieger, 41, of Lumberton, was a four-year member of Local 1957, Silsbee.
He is survived by his wife, Ann, four daughters and a stepdaughter.
According to reports, Rieger, after striking his head, tumbled from the locomotive down a 48-foot embankment into the Navasota River. Emergency responders, summoned by the locomotive engineer, pronounced Rieger dead at the scene.
The nighttime accident occurred some 80 miles northwest of Houston, in Grimes County, at milepost 26.8 of the BNSF Conroe Subdivision.
The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating the accident.
Rieger is the tenth UTU member killed on duty in 2011, two more than were killed during calendar year 2010.

BOTKINS, Ohio – CSX conductor Dennis A. Hemme, 59, became the ninth UTU member to die in an on-the-job accident in 2011 when he reportedly was crushed to death here Sept. 8 during a mainline shove of a stalled train. Botkins is some 110 miles north of Cincinnati.
Hemme, with some six years of service, was a member of UTU Local 14 (Cincinnati) and is survived by his wife and three children.
Visitation will be Thursday, Sept. 15, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Staley-Crowe Funeral Home, 7140 Plainfield Rd., Deer Park, Ohio 45236. Funeral Mass will be Friday morning, Sept. 16, at 10 a.m. at St. Michaels, 11144 Spinner Ave., Sharonville, Ohio 45241.
Just since July 25, six UTU members have been killed in on-the-job accidents.
For more information on UTU members killed on-the-job in 2011, click on the following link:

ABILENE, Kans. – A unidentified Union Pacific employee, operating a hi-rail vehicle, was killed in an accident here with a SUV at a highway-rail grade crossing, reports KAKE television news.

KAKE reported the UP employee was driving the hi-rail vehicle westbound while inspecting track when it was struck at the crossing by the SUV. The SUV driver was hospitalized with unreported injuries.

FRAZER, Mont. — A BNSF conductor and UTU member, along with a BNSF engineer, were killed late Friday night, Aug. 19, when the crew van in which they were riding was involved in a two-vehicle collision on Highway 2 just east of here in eastern Montana.
This was the eighth UTU member fatality in 2011, and the fifth since July 25.
BNSF identified the dead as conductor Blaine Mack, 56, a member of UTU Local 1059 (Minot, N.D.), with 36 years’ service, and engineer Todd Burckhard, 35, with six years’ service. Both resided in Minot. Burckhard previously was a UTU member.
Frazer is some 110 miles west of Williston, N.D., and about 20 miles west of Wolf Point, Mont.
The Billings Gazette reports the westbound Chevrolet Suburban crew van in which Mack and Burckhard were riding collided with an eastbound Dodge pickup that crossed into the westbound lane. The newspaper, quoting the Montana Highway Patrol, reported the Chevrolet crew van “swerved into the eastbound lane to avoid a collision, but the Dodge’s driver corrected it back into the [eastbound] lane at the last moment. The Dodge then crashed into the Chevrolet’s passenger side.”
The unidentified drivers of the Coach America-owned crew van and the pickup were hospitalized with unspecified injuries. The accident is under investigation by the Montana Highway Patrol.
The Coach America crew-van driver reportedly had picked up Mack and Burckhard at Oswego, Mont., at BNSF milepost 251.8, and was transporting them to their away-from-home terminal at Glasgow, Mont.
In March, in Kelso, Wash., a conductor trainee and engineer, along with a Coach America crew-van driver were killed when the van was struck by a BNSF freight train at a private crossing. The conductor trainee, Chris Loehr, had not yet joined the UTU. Seriously injured in that accident was UTU conductor and Local 324 member and trustee Dwight L. Hauck, 51, of Auburn, Wash.
This eighth UTU-member fatality in 2011 equals the total number of UTU members killed in each of the two previous years.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A BNSF Railway yard worker, Thomas F. Bleyenberg, a member of UTU Local 5, Kansas City, Mo., was killed Mon., Aug. 15, when he became trapped between two rail cars at the carrier’s Argentine Yard here.
Bleyenberg was working a two-person remote control assignment with a third student-operator, according to reports.
Bleyenberg, 52, of Independence, Mo., was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Associated Press. He had been a UTU member since 1994.
Bleyenberg is the seventh UTU member killed in an on-duty accident in 2011, the fourth in a yard accident, and the fourth in fewer than 30 days.
The National Transportation Safety Board, assisted by the UTU Transportation Safety Team, is investigating.
Local 5 officers are organizing a “Christmas in October” on Oct. 8 to help Brother Bleyenberg’s family, to give a little TLC to their house and property, Missouri State Legislative Director Ken Menges reports.
Local 5 Legislative Rep. Curt Jones says the Bleyenburg house needs a little painting and winterizing and this event will give a chance for all Tom’s friends and union brothers and sisters to do something that the family will remember for a lifetime.
If anyone would like to help or donate please contact Curt Jones at or State Legislative Director Ken Menges at or call (573) 634-3303.

Long Island Rail Road car inspector Russell DeCeck, 48, a member of Local 722, Babylon, N.Y., was killed Sunday, Aug. 14, when he reportedly came in contact with the third rail while working at the carrier’s Babylon yard in West Islip, N.Y.
DeCeck, of Coram, N.Y., had 28 years of service. He joined the UTU in 1989.
“On behalf of our entire membership in the UTU family our thoughts and prayers are with Russell’s family and close friends,” LIRR General Chairperson Anthony Simon said. “We are all heartbroken over this tragic loss. This accident is a reminder of just how dangerous railroading can be, and shows the importance of continuing the fight in keeping our members safe.”
DeCeck is the sixth UTU member killed in an on-duty accident in 2011, and the third in a yard accident.