North Carolina Railroad Worker Accident Attorney Report : Mud Slide Claims the Life of Norfolk Southern Worker Joseph Drewnoski
Railroad workers face danger on a daily basis. But the fact they face hazards does not mean they should be placed in harm’s way by their employers.
I was horrified to read about the death of Joseph Drewnoski, a Norfolk Southern Railway worker from Waynesville, NC who was buried and killed by a landslide recently as he surveyed tracks for storm damage during heavy rain in the mountains of North Carolina.
Media reports stated the tragedy left a widow and three young children fatherless. My thoughts are with the family of Mr. Drewnoski.
The Citizen Times of Asheville described Mr. Drewnoski as a family man “always with a smile on his face,” according to his widow Ashley.
His obituary stated: “Joe was an assistant foreman for Norfolk Southern and had worked for the railroad company for the past eight years and was also a member of Grace Episcopal Church in the Mountains. He loved spending time with his family and especially enjoyed sharing the Star Wars Trilogy, Boy Scouts, and volunteerism at The Open Door with his sons.”
He was reported to be inspecting a rail line close to Black Mountain in McDowell County on the morning of May 6 at 2 a.m., when a mudslide came down the mountain. It took emergency workers more than five hours to recover his body from the rubble and mud left by the landslide.
As a North Carolina railroad worker/FELA attorney who has worked on railroad cases for decades, I am well aware that railroads can put workers in inhospitable conditions late at night. At the same time Norfolk Southern should have been aware of the dangers of mud slides, given the fact hours of heavy rain preceded this tragedy.
Frequently I see safety failures such as insufficient manpower, railroads failing to wait until it’s safe to send out their employees and not having the right equipment to respond if a tragedy does occur.
Mr. Drewnoski’s coworker was still inside the truck. He is lucky to have survived when it was knocked off the track by the landslide.
The fatal incident has sparked an investigation by Norfolk Southern as well as the Federal Railroad Administration, which is the standard procedure when a railroad worker is killed.
Railroad workers are protected under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). When tragedies like this occur their families may have grounds to make a claim. See this information about railroad worker accidents from our North Carolina railroad injury lawyers.