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BLET Safety Task Force investigating after BLET member killed in Union Pacific accident at Hoxie, Ark.

CLEVELAND, August 19 — The BLET Safety Task Force has been dispatched to assist the National Transportation Safety Board with the investigation of a fatal head-on collision near Hoxie, Ark. Two train crew members were killed and two others injured when two Union Pacific trains collided at approximately 3 a.m. on August 17.

Killed in the crash was locomotive engineer Chance J. Gober, 41, a member of BLET Division 182 in North Little Rock, Ark. Brother Gober first joined the BLET on September 1, 2006. Also killed in the crash was Roderick A. Hayes, 31, a member of the SMART Transportation Division.

Locomotive engineer Michael S. Zompakos, 54, was injured in the crash. He has been a member of BLET Division 182 (North Little Rock, Ark.) since April 1, 2004. Conductor Aaron P. Jeffery, a member of the SMART Transportation Division, was also injured. The extent of their injuries has not been reported.

The resulting fire sparked the evacuation of nearby residents. Both trains were carrying hazardous chemicals. Hoxie is 90 miles northwest of Memphis, Tenn.

STF Primary Investigators Bryan T. Aldridge, BLET Division 78 (Louisville, Ky.), and Randy J. Dumey, BLET Division 595 (Chaffee, Mo.), are on scene assisting with the investigation.

The BLET Safety Task Force assists federal agencies in the investigation of rail accidents, helping to determine probable causes and making safety recommendations. The STF will study the accident from the viewpoint of the locomotive engineers and trainmen in order to help determine how the accident occurred and how to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.

The NTSB will handle release of details regarding these derailments as the on-site investigation unfolds.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
bentley@ble-t.org

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