Memorial service set for engineer killed at Inquirer and Daily News plant

Posted: May 22, 2012

A memorial service is scheduled on Thursday for Jefferson Troester, 43, of Claymont, Del., who fulfilled a childhood dream by becoming a train engineer in 2010 and died Friday when a roll of newsprint fell on him as he opened a railcar door at the Inquirer and Daily News’ printing plant in Upper Merion.

Troester graduated from Oxford Area High School in Chester County, served in the Air Force, and worked in automotive repair, as a welder, and as a millwright before he was hired by the Upper Merion & Plymouth Railroad, his family said Monday. The memorial service will be at the Chandler Funeral Home in Wilmington.

Mark Block, spokesman for Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the newspapers, said Friday that a train hauling six railcars loaded with 4-foot-by-4-foot, 1,800-pound paper rolls pulled into the plant’s railway siding between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m.

A three-high stack of newsprint rolls had apparently shifted, Block said; one roll toppled out onto the loading dock, and a second fell onto Mr. Troester, who was standing just outside the car.

Printing-plant personnel do not handle the rolls until they are on the loading dock, Block said, so no one else was on the scene except the train’s conductor. The conductor, Jim Wilson, notified plant employees, and Upper Merion police and Norristown Emergency Services were called. Troester was pronounced dead at the scene.

Block said that the rolls of Great Northern Paper newsprint were not secured and that there are up to 70 in a railcar, tightly packed. One stack apparently leaned toward the door, he said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Federal Railway Administration will likely conduct inquiries. Upper Merion & Plymouth Railroad officials said Friday they were cooperating with the investigation.

Wilson said he had known Troester for several years, dating back to when they both worked at a Conshohocken steel plant owned by Arcelor Mittal Group, which also owns the Upper Merion & Plymouth.

“He was a hardworking guy,” Wilson said Monday. “He had a good sense of humor and was always talkative; he was a nice person to be with. … He sure loved trains; if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been there.”

Contact staff writer Dan Hardy at 610-313-8134, dhardy@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @DanIn

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