Remote control fatality in San Antonio heightens worker safety concerns

On December 7, a 37-year-old employee in San Antonio was struck and killed by one of the two remote control locomotives he was operating.

This tragedy comes despite persistent warnings about the potential dangers of remote control technology and lack of training to operate the technology in the United States from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.

"We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Brother Herstine's family and friends," said Don Hahs, International President of the BLE. "Jody Herstine had been a switchman at Union Pacific for only five years. Our hearts go out to his grieving wife, Sara, and two children.

"While the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the specific causes of this accident, we hope that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and rail companies will heed our concerns before another tragedy occurs," he added.

The fatality came two days after an overwhelming majority of BLE members voted to merge with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

"This senseless death underscores the need for enforceable regulations to be adopted by the FRA to make remote control operations safer," said James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. "What we have here is 21st Century technology used on a 19th Century infrastructure and 20th Century locomotives which carry tons of explosive and hazardous materials through our communities. One life lost, is one too many."

So far, 44 cities and counties across the United States have passed resolutions calling on the Federal Railroad Administration to adopt enforceable regulations to make remote control operations safer.



© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers