By Tim Leeds
A Havre railroad worker killed Monday may have been crossing the track to inspect an approaching train when the train struck him, a BNSF spokesman said today.
Brian Chris Henry, 45, was killed about 5:20 a.m. Monday when he stepped from a nonmoving Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. freight train and was struck by a westbound BNSF freight train about 15 miles east of Malta, spokesman Gus Melonas said.
Melonas said it is standard procedure for workers from an idle train to stand on either side of the track to inspect a moving train for defects or problems as it passes by.
He said he could not give any additional details about Henry's death, and that the accident is still under investigation.
Henry had left a full-time job at United Building Centers in Havre to start working for BNSF in May. He worked for the railroad as a conductor.
His brother, Ted Henry of Great Falls, said the family was making arrangements to come to Havre today.
"He was a good man," Ted Henry said.
Dave Arensmeyer, Havre UBC store manager, said he was sorry when Henry quit his full-time job at UBC, where he continued to work from time to time.
"Everybody around here, all the employees and the customers, really liked Chris. He was always pleasant to be around," Arensmeyer said.
Henry was a yard leader when he left UBC.
"He got the loads ready and was pretty much running the back warehouse," Arensmeyer said.
Henry was the son of Dave and Mary Henry. He grew up on the family farm and ranch near Box Elder.
Henry worked at the grain elevators n Box Elder for years, up until their closure in the 1990s. He started working at UBC in May of 1999.
"Chris was a wonderful guy, very upbeat," said Gene Blatter, an employee at UBC. "He liked to razz people in a good way and keep things lively."
Blatter said Henry had stopped in at UBC on Thursday.
"He helped half a day, kind of as a fill-in," Blatter said. "What a super guy. (His death) was quite a shock."
Henry sold the house near Box Elder he was raised in and moved to Havre a couple of years ago, Blatter said.
He said Henry had a knack for taking a serious situation and making a joke, changing the atmosphere.
"I think that was one of the things that people really liked about Chris," he said.
He also was a good worker, Blatter said.
"He was a hard worker, very conscientious about everything that needed to be done," Blatter said.
Henry had and made a lot of friends, co-workers said.
"Everywhere he went he knew somebody," Blatter said, adding that it was impossible to travel around the state with Henry without having to stop so he could visit with people he knew.
"He loved his family a great deal," Blatter added.