Norfolk Southern conductor dies in collision with dump truck in Cleveland
A Norfolk Southern conductor was struck and killed Tuesday morning by a dump truck at a steelmaking facility in Cleveland, Ohio. The National Transportation Safety Board also announced later Tuesday that it was launching a special investigation into the company following multiple accidents involving Norfolk Southern dating back to December of 2021.
The conductor, identified as Louis Shuster, died at the Cleveland-Cliffs Cleveland Works property, the railroad company confirmed in a news release.
According to Norfolk Southern, officials believe Shuster was struck by a dump truck as a Norfolk Southern train was moving through a crossing at the facility.
“The cause of the accident is not yet known, and we will of course cooperate fully with the National Transportation Safety Board,” Norfolk Southern president and CEO Alan H. Shaw said in a statement. “In some ways, the cause does not matter. I called together every member of our management team this afternoon to emphasize the urgency of finding new solutions. Tomorrow we will hold safety stand-down briefings reaching every employee across our network.”
Shaw said the company intended to “rebuild our safety culture from the ground up. We are going to invest more in safety. This is not who we are, it is not acceptable, and it will not continue.”
Norfolk Southern said earlier that it was working with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Cleveland Police Department and Cleveland-Cliffs representatives to learn more about the incident.
“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.”
The NTSB said it is investigating the incident, as are Cleveland police. The NTSB announced later Tuesday that it was also launching a special investigation into Norfolk Southern Railway’s “organization and safety culture.”
The NTSB said it is “concerned” that “several organizational factors” may have played a part in the accidents, and urged the company not to wait for the investigation to be concluded to improve its safety practices.
“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 statement.
The NTSB noted five “significant accidents” involving Norfolk Southern over the last two years, with three of them occurring over the last few weeks, most notably the Feb. 3 toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate for several days, and crews later conducted a controlled release of toxic chemicals, including vinyl chloride, due to the risk that the derailment could cause an explosion.
State and federal officials have faced significant criticism over their response to the East Palestine incident, with local residents concerned that the contamination to the area could pose significant long-term health risks.
On Saturday, 20 cars of a 212-car Norfolk Southern train derailed near a highway in the Springfield, Ohio, area. There were no injuries and no hazardous materials aboard the train, Northern Southern said.
However, residents within 1,000 feet of the derailment were asked to shelter-in-place out of an “abundance of caution,” the Clark County Emergency Management Agency reported.
The derailment left more than 1,500 residents without power, Clark County reported.
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