A Norfolk Southern Railway employee was killed on March 7 when a freight train collided with a dump truck in Cleveland, Ohio.
Louis Shuster, a Norfolk Southern conductor, “was fatally injured early Tuesday morning at the Cleveland-Cliffs Cleveland Works property in Cleveland, Ohio. At this time, officials are reporting that the conductor was struck by a dump truck as a Norfolk Southern train was moving through a crossing at the facility,” a statement released by the railroad said.
“Norfolk Southern has been in touch with the conductor’s family and will do all it can to support them and his colleagues. We are grieving the loss of a colleague today. Our hearts go out to his loved ones during this extremely difficult time,” the statement continued.
“The company is working with the Cleveland Police Department and Cleveland-Cliffs representatives to confirm the details and learn everything possible about the incident. Further, the company has been in contact with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, SMART-TD union leadership, and Cleveland-Cliffs leadership,” the company added.
A spokesperson for the Cleveland-Cliffs Cleveland Works location told a northeast Ohio TV news outlet that the accident happened when the Norfolk Southern train was traveling through the company’s property around 1:19 a.m.
Cleveland-Cliffs produces flat-rolled steel and supplies iron ore pellets.
The March 7 crash occurred at a time when Norfolk Southern is facing scrutiny over its safety record.
A 10-year safety summary from the Federal Railroad Administration shows that Norfolk Southern had an annual average of 163.6 derailments and 2.9 hazardous material releases.
On March 6, the Atlanta-based company announced a six-point plan “to immediately enhance the safety of its operations.”
The plan is based on the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary findings of a fiery and toxic derailment that happened in early February in East Palestine, a village of 4,761 residents in eastern Ohio around a mile from the Pennsylvania border.
“Reading the NTSB report makes it clear that meaningful safety improvements require a comprehensive industry effort that brings together railcar and tank car manufacturers, railcar owners and lessors, and the railroad companies,” Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw said in a March 6 statement. “We are eager to help drive that effort and we are not waiting to take action.”
On Feb. 3, a 151-car freight train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine.
When the train veered off the tracks, 38 cars derailed. A fire ensued, damaging an additional 12 cars.
Of the 20 cars carrying hazardous materials, 11 derailed.
Seeking to avoid an explosion, officials intentionally released and burned vinyl chloride from the train on Feb. 6, sending a massive cloud of black smoke into the sky that could be seen for miles.
Five U.S. senators recently introduced The Railway Safety Act of 2023, intended “to prevent future train disasters like the derailment that devastated East Palestine.”
Sens. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), John Fetterman (D-Penn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced the bill on March 1.
The measure is focused on enhancing safety procedures for trains carrying hazardous materials, establishing requirements for wayside defect detectors, creating a permanent requirement for railroads to operate with at least two-person crews, and increasing fines for wrongdoing committed by rail carriers.
Shaw will appear at a hearing conducted by the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee on March 9.
Last weekend, another of the railroad’s trains derailed outside of Springfield, Ohio.
The company confirmed in a statement that 20 cars of a 212-car train veered off the tracks near the Clark County Fairgrounds on March 4.
No hazardous materials were aboard the train, and no injuries were reported, Norfolk Southern said.