IN THE LINE OF DUTY
Mike W. Hoover
A grinding crash on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad took the life of a BLE locomotive engineer near Casper, Wyo., on December 7.
Engineer Mike W. Hoover died at the scene from injuries sustained in the 6:25 p.m. accident which occurred at Arminto, Wyo., a siding about 60 miles west of Casper. Brother Hoover, 48, was a 29-year railroad employee, and a longtime member of Division 207 in Casper, having been initiated into the BLE in 1977.
The conductor on the train survived the crash, and was evacuated by helicopter to the hospital and later released.
Both Brother Hoover and the conductor were based out of Casper, and were traveling westbound in non-signaled territory when their train approached the siding at Arminto, and unexpectedly encountered a mainline switch, lined for the siding.
Their train, moving at 46 mph traveled into the siding, where it collided head-on with several locomotives attached to an unoccupied train which had been previously parked in the siding for several days. The rail line was subsequently reopened for traffic on Sunday afternoon. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
"Losing Mike is very much like losing a close family friend," said Division 207 Local Chairman Eric Kriegh, as he tried to express the feelings of those in the terminal where Brother Hoover worked. "Casper is a terminal with a small work force, so everyone is very close. With Mike's many years of service, he was like a patriarch of our Division."
In closing, he spoke for all by saying, "He will be sadly missed."
Reacting to the tragic accident, BLE President Don Hahs said, "We are always saddened to learn of the death of one of our members, particularly in a situation such as this, as a loss of one is a loss to all."
President Hahs then expressed condolences to Brother Hoover's widow and family, saying, "The loss of a loved one is hard to bear, particularly during the holiday season. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with the family in this most difficult time."
President Hahs has requested the BLE flag at the Brotherhood's headquarters (Standard Building) in downtown Cleveland will fly at half staff for three days.
A number of state and federal agencies responded to the accident, including the Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The BLE participated in the accident investigation through the auspices of its Safety Task Force.
Brother Hoover is survived by his wife and three adult children, one of whom is employed by BNSF in the Maintenance of Way Department.
He is the 25th BLE member killed in the line of duty since 1996, and the fourth this year.
© 2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers