April 24, 2014

UTU member dies in BNSF Tulsa yard accident

TULSA, Okla. — A BNSF employee and UTU member was killed in a yard accident here Aug. 4 when a vehicle in which she was riding was struck by a flatcar during a hump operation, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and reported by the Tulsa World newspaper.

Deborah Ann Beeler, 39, of Claremore, was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple injuries, reports the newspaper. She was a member of UTU Local 1289 since July 2005.

According to the newspaper report, Beeler was riding a 2010 Kubota RTV that was crossing BNSF’s Cherokee Yard tracks around 2:15 a.m., Aug. 4, when it was hit on the passenger side by the flatcar that was moving by gravity off the hump. She reportedly was pinned in the RTV for two hours before Tulsa Fire Department rescue workers could free her.

Beeler is survived by her husband, Michael, and sons Tyler, 11, and Wyatt, 9.

UTU Local 1289 member Randy Battenfield, 27, who reportedly was operating the RTV, was not injured, according to the newspaper. Battenfield became a UTU member July 1, 35 days prior to the accident.

Beeler is the fifth UTU member killed in an on-duty accident in 2011, and the second in a yard accident.