BLET NEWS FLASH
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, February 7 — BLET member Michael Kempf, a member of BLET Division 35 in Jacksonville, Fla., was killed when his Amtrak train collided with a CSX train tied down in a siding near Columbia, S.C., on February 4, 2018. Brother Kempf was 54 years old. Also killed in the crash was 32-year-old conductor Michael Sella.
Employed by Amtrak, Brother Kempf first joined the BLET on February 1, 2014. He had worked at Amtrak and also at CSX over the years. Prior to his railroad career, Brother Kempf spent 20 years in the U.S. Army serving as a tank commander. He was stationed in Panama and South Korea, among other locations.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the accident. In addition to the two fatalities, 116 people were injured when Amtrak train 91 entered a siding at Cayce, S.C., and struck a stationary CSX train. The NTSB reported that the switch leading to the siding was improperly aligned, diverting the Amtrak train from the mainline to the siding.
Brother Kempf is survived by his wife and three children. He enjoyed riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. A visitation will be held at the Richmond Hill Funeral Home (8901 Ford Ave., Richmond Hill, GA 31324, (912) 756-7575) on February 7 from 5-7 p.m., and the funeral will follow at 2 p.m. on February 8.
“On behalf of all members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, I extend deepest condolences to the family and friends of Brother Michael Kempf,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “Our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.”