IN THE LINE OF DUTY
C.B. "Charlie" Smith
A BLE Local Chairman was struck and killed by an Amtrak train at approximately 12:30 a.m. near Wilmington, Del., on March 21.
Charles B. "Charlie" Smith, 35, was killed as he boarded his Norfolk Southern freight train just north of the Edgemore freight yard in Delaware. He was local chairman of BLE Division 484 in Delmar, Del.
According to preliminary reports, Brother Smith had just been transported to the train by the local trainmaster when the accident occurred. The trainmaster dropped off Brother Smith at the head of the 36-car train, then transported the conductor to the rear of the train for a routine inspection. It was at this time they noticed an Amtrak train headed north on the opposite track.
Sources familiar with the track in that area speculate that Brother Smith either fell or was "sucked in" by the wind of the fast-moving Amtrak train.
"We'll probably never know what happened," said Everette M. Masten Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of Division 484 (Delmar, Del).
An Amtrak train reported to a dispatcher that it had hit something just north of Wilmington, Del., and Brother Smith's bag and lunch box were found on the platform of the lead engine.
Brother Smith, a resident of Greenwood, Del., was born on Oct. 15, 1966. He joined the BLE on Aug. 17, 1989, just prior to his 23rd birthday. He is survived by his wife and two children, a son, 18, and a daughter, 13.
"He was a very conscientious union representative and a good man," Brother Masten said. "He always had the interests of his men at heart. He was a good family man."
Brother Smith is the 26th BLE member killed in the line of duty since 1996 and the first this year. One year ago, Brother R.J. St. Marie, a member of BLE Division 366 (Houston), was killed in a crew transport vehicle while being transported to his off-duty location on March 21, 2001.
On behalf of the 59,000 men and women of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, BLE International President Don M. Hahs sent his deepest condolences to the Smith family.
Continuing a policy he initiated last year, President Hahs requested that the BLE flag atop the International Division headquarters in downtown Cleveland be flown at half staff following the death of a BLE member in the line of duty.
© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers