Reported by Craig Webb for Akron Beacon Journal.
A Norfolk Southern worker is dead after being struck by a dump truck Tuesday morning at a railroad crossing at a Cleveland steel plant.
Norfolk Southern says conductor Louis Shuster was killed on the Cleveland-Cliffs Cleveland Works property in Cleveland.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office says Shuster, 46, was from Broadview Heights.
Shuster was killed around 1:30 a.m. when a dump truck struck the train while it was moving through a crossing at the plant on West Third Street, according to Cleveland police.
The dump truck, which is owned by TMS International and was hauling a full load of limestone, initially stopped at a stop sign at the railroad crossing then pulled forward and struck the first car of the train, police said.
Shuster, the train’s conductor, was positioned outside of the train and was hit.
“Norfolk Southern has been in touch with the conductor’s family and will do all it can to support them and his colleagues,” the railroad said in a statement. “We are grieving the loss of a colleague today. Our hearts go out to his loved ones during this extremely difficult time.”
Norfolk Southern said it is cooperating with Cleveland police, who are investigating the accident, and has been in contact with Gov. Mike DeWine’s office along with the union that represents Shuster.
The accident was the latest incident involving the railroad in the state. Over the weekend, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Springfield. And last month, a much larger derailment in East Palestine caused a mass evacuation and lingering environmental concerns.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday it was sending in its own investigators to look into the dump truck fatality and hours later announced it would launch a special investigation of Norfolk Southern Railway and its safety culture.
“Given the number and significance of recent Norfolk Southern accidents, the NTSB also urges the company to take immediate action today to review and assess its safety practices, with the input of employees and others, and implement necessary changes to improve safety,” the NTSB said in a news release.
Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio, D-Lakewood, said she plans to bring up this string of rail incidents in the Statehouse when the Senate Select Committee on Rail Safety meets Wednesday.
“This tragedy is another example of how dangerous trains can be not only to our communities but to rail workers as well,” Antonio said. “As ranking member on the Senate Select Committee on Rail Safety, I hope we will address some of these dangers and explore policy solutions that will make our railways safer.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the Federal Railroad Administration will also assist in the investigation.
“Our thoughts are with the family facing this preventable tragedy,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “Now more than ever, it is time for stronger freight railroad accountability and safety.”
TTD, the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department, said the coalition of transportation unions stand united in mourning the loss of a fellow member.
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