TULSA, Okla. — A BNSF employee and UTU member was killed in a yard accident here Aug. 4 when a vehicle in which she was riding was struck by a flatcar during a hump operation, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and reported by the Tulsa World newspaper.
Deborah Ann Beeler, 39, of Claremore, was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple injuries, reports the newspaper. She was a member of UTU Local 1289 since July 2005.
According to the newspaper report, Beeler was riding a 2010 Kubota RTV that was crossing BNSF’s Cherokee Yard tracks around 2:15 a.m., Aug. 4, when it was hit on the passenger side by the flatcar that was moving by gravity off the hump. She reportedly was pinned in the RTV for two hours before Tulsa Fire Department rescue workers could free her.
Beeler is survived by her husband, Michael, and sons Tyler, 11, and Wyatt, 9.
UTU Local 1289 member Randy Battenfield, 27, who reportedly was operating the RTV, was not injured, according to the newspaper. Battenfield became a UTU member July 1, 35 days prior to the accident.
Beeler is the fifth UTU member killed in an on-duty accident in 2011, and the second in a yard accident.

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.
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MINERAL SPRINGS, N.C. — CSX conductor Phillip E. Crawford Jr., 33, and locomotive engineer James Gregory Hadden, 36, were killed early May 24 in a rear-end collision here involving two CSX freight trains, according to news reports. Mineral Springs is some 30 miles south of Charlotte.

Crawford was a member of UTU Local 970, Abbeville, S.C. He signed on with CSX in October 2005.

Two crew members on the lead train, which was hit from the rear, suffered minor injuries, reported the Charlotte Observer.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration are investigating the North Carolina train collision, and a member of the UTU Transportation Safety Team is assisting the NTSB.

A CSX spokesperson told the Associated Press that the rear-end collision occurred on northbound tracks and involved one train enroute to Hamlet, N.C., from New Orleans, and another enroute to Charlotte from southern Georgia. Each train was pulled by two locomotives; one pulling nine freight cars, and the other 12, said CSX.

In Ft. Worth, a BNSF switch foreman and UTU Local 564 member, Paul Young, 28, with almost seven years’ service, lost both legs and an arm after being hit by a train in BNSF’s Alliance Terminal of May 23. Young, a resident of Haslet, Texas, reportedly was performing a gravity switch at an ethanol plant at the time of the accident.

GILA BEND, Ariz. — A westbound Union Pacific freight train hit a U.S. Border Patrol SUV here May 12 as two Border Patrol agents, reportedly chasing suspected undocumented immigrants, suddenly entered an unmarked private crossing in their unmarked SUV as the train approached.

Both Border Patrol agents were killed in the collision, which occurred about 80 miles from the Mexican border.

News reports say the train’s crew members saw the SUV driving parallel to the tracks “when the unmarked SUV suddenly turned south into the crossing.” The engineer reportedly blew his horn prior to the crash, trying to get the SUV driver’s attention.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department said the three-locomotive, 75-car UP train, enroute to Yuma, was traveling about 62 mph when it struck the SUV, pushing it about one-mile down the tracks.

News reports say sheriff’s deputies later arrested a group of eight suspected undocumented immigrants traveling on foot near the scene of the accident. They reportedly were carrying 315 pounds of marijuana.