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A fitting farewell for the boy who loved ‘choo-choo trains’

Flooding in many parts of the Great Plains and Midwest continues to affect workers at more than a dozen railroads as they toil to repair washed out track and damaged bridges. But a family’s tragic loss caused by severe weather in Minnesota last month affected several Canadian Pacific Railway employees a different way. As in pulling at their heartstrings.

Two-year-old Nathaniel Prindle died and three members of his family were injured May 25 by a tornado that struck Hugo, Minn. Nate, as his family called him, drowned after the tornado lifted him and dropped him into a pond near the Prindle’s home. His parents, Gerard and Christina, and four-year-old sister Annika were trapped in the rubble of their home, according to a news item in the Pioneer Press.

Nate loved “choo-choo trains,” as he called them. So much so, his parents chose a country gravesite in Washington County just east of their hometown as Nate’s resting place. Freight trains regularly pass the cemetery.

After hearing about the tragedy, a CPR employee in the St. Paul service area thought of a way to honor Nate’s passion and offer a modicum of comfort to his grieving family. The employee and several co-workers arranged to have two locomotives and a caboose waiting on the tracks near the cemetery during his funeral on June 2.

When the service concluded, the engines and caboose slowly rumbled past the grave. The engineer sounded a long whistle salute as the train headed away from the cemetery.

The compassionate act by the CPR employee — who is “treating the matter as a private initiative and has asked not to be publicly identified,” says CPR spokesman Mike LoVecchio — and his co-workers did not go unnoticed by the Class I’s top executive.

"Please express my admiration for their thoughtful farewell gesture,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Fred Green in an email to the St. Paul service area staff. “It makes me proud to work with them."

And, to the rest of us in the rail industry, proud to count them among our own.

Posted by: Jeff Stagl | Date posted: 6/17/2008

Add a commentPost your comment now[23]



Posted by DAVID GOLICK on 6/18/2008 10:01:02 AM

I would like to commend everyone involved with such a thoughtful and heart felt heart goes out to the family.

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Posted by Laird A. Bradley on 6/18/2008 10:25:57 AM

I worked for Conrail for 28 years and love choo choo trains myself. I would like to thank those who cared so much about that little boy by giving him a great train ride to heaven.

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Posted by O'Coimon on 6/18/2008 11:27:28 AM

What a very affecting story of real caring and respect for a young fan of trains by railroaders of the old school. Beautifully written up with restraint - May he hear his beloved trains as he speaks with the angels.

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Posted by Larry Kaufman on 6/18/2008 12:46:15 PM

Well done, Jeff Stagl. For as long as I have been around railroads in one form or another (40 years), stories such as this have occurred. I can think of no industry whose employees are as devoted to their work as the railroads. They may not always get along with their employers, but when you are dealing with floods, landslides, blizzards, washouts, etc., the railroad workers can be counted upon to do their utmost. They went above and beyond for the little tornado victim.

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Posted by C. Furmanek on 6/18/2008 1:33:50 PM

As a new parent of a beautiful 14 month old boy, I cannot nearly begin to imagine the heartbreak and pain this family is suffering now. I am proud to be in the transportation business when I know throughout this country and Canada there are people out there like these wonderful folks with the railroad. We are all proud of you. Thanks

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Posted by Joseph Hegwood Peagler on 6/18/2008 2:02:31 PM

Class Act, CPR Employees--Total Class...Nate's High-Railin' Heaven just now... Semper Fidelis, Joseph Rail-Highway Safety Coordinator State of Idaho

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Posted by Vince Burget on 6/18/2008 3:52:14 PM

Such a tragic end to a short life. My thoughts and prayers go out to Nate's family and my heartfelt thanks to the CPR folks who thought up and carried out such a touching tribute. It would be a privilege and an honor to know them. This is the true embodiment of compassion.

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Posted by Bob on 6/19/2008 9:44:02 AM

In a day where Locomotive Engineers aren't heros anymore and simply the idiot blocking the crossing for "hours on end" it is enlightning not only to see the compassion of all involved but also to the railroad which allowed this to take place. Cheers to all involved!

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Posted by Erwin P. van Beveren on 6/19/2008 9:58:46 AM

Reading this story brought tears in my eyes. Thanks to the crew for doing this wanderfull act. Erwin, carman at CSX

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Posted by Thomas Thalheim on 6/19/2008 1:17:01 PM

My prayers for Nate's family in their time of grief. My thanks and compliments to the CPR railroaders for a most fitting tribute.

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Posted by Curt Warfel on 6/20/2008 10:40:50 AM

This story brought tears to my eyes too! God bless the CPR employees who were thoughtful enough to do this.

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Posted by John Spahn on 6/20/2008 2:02:36 PM

It is this that will be remembered. Thanks to the CP Crew and Ops. Dept. that did this for the greving family. When my uncle returned by train from WWII he talked the SLSF Conductor to stop the "Firefly" at the crossing closest to his home in Weir Ks. A year or so later my uncle died in a car accident at the age of 19. The SLSF Conductor attended the funeral and on the card he wrote "You are on a train that I cannot stop now". That was 60 years ago and that is still remembered. Thanks again CP J Spahn CS Rep SKOL & SLWC RR

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Posted by Ross on 6/20/2008 5:35:04 PM

As a former employee with B&O, Chessie Systems, CSX (retired), tears were brought to my eyes by the initiative and imagination of the (anonymous) railroader whose "last train for Nate" was approved by CPR Execs! I suspect in Heaven, Nate has met railroaders from ALL different lines, ranging from the extinct Rutland Railroad to the still-alive Union Pacific! God bless Nate's family and ease their grief somewhat. Yer NEW Hillbilly friend in TN... Ross PROUD father of an American Soldier

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Posted by Samantha Kennedy on 6/21/2008 1:22:01 PM

This act of compassion is what makes the rail industry stand out above and beyond other business sectors. Thanks to those who showed such self-less compassion and genuine concern.

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Posted by Mary Norman on 6/21/2008 8:59:00 PM

What a beautiful testimony! I admire each one who was there and I believe God led the way. May God Bless each one of you.It was heart felt when I read the artical. Love and Prayers, Mary

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Posted by Frank Mondello, MTA-New York City Transit on 6/23/2008 11:18:12 AM

I'm having a hard time typing and wiping away the tears. God welcome Nate, and bless the CPR employees for their heartfelt caring.

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Posted by Michael D. Sternfeld on 6/23/2008 3:09:10 PM

As a life long lover of railroads who worked briefly for the old EL in the summer of 69 and then came back to full time railroading in 94 the story brought a tear to my eyes. The love shown by these CP railroaders for the family of that little child shows the wonderfull depth of humanity that exists not only in rhe rank and file but all the way up the corporate chain of command at that carrier. I am proud of all at CP who made this wonderfull event happen.

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Posted by James Mancuso on 6/23/2008 5:50:21 PM

It is nice to know that some railroads still know how to do things with a touch of class, and the send off the CP employees gave little Nate was about as classy as you can get. Being a lover of trains myself, I would love for railroaders to give me a similar sendoff. I salute CEO Fred Green and his employees for this wonderful act of compassion. I would be honored to count them as friends.

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Posted by Chris Tirone on 6/23/2008 8:30:53 PM

Hats off to the CP Rail Employee's for their thoughtfulness in the tribute to the little boy and his family in their time of troubles. You and your family are in my prayers. Rest assured that your son is in heaven learning how to run a locomotive and handle a train with god teaching him. I only hope that if something like this happened around here that somebody on the Railroad here would do what the CP people have done for that family and that poor little boy. Godspeed. Chris on the old B&M.

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Posted by J.B. Rich on 6/23/2008 10:13:10 PM

That's class boys , pure class. I've been a railroad professional for 21 years and just about the time I lose the faith ,something happens that makes me proud to be a railroader. As a father , I feel the loss of those good people and they are in our prayers.

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Posted by Lou Highsmith on 6/24/2008 9:58:03 AM

This story makes me so proud to be a railfan just like Nate. I am also proud of the great employees of Canadian Pacific and their CEO Fred Green. Jeff Stagl did an excellent job in bringing this to us. Best wishes from Raleigh, North Carolina to the Prindle family and all that helped to honor this member of our ever growing group.

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Posted by Linda Weaver on 6/24/2008 12:22:11 PM

I pray that God blesses all those involved in this beautiful tribute and especially the family of the child. My husband worked for Amtrak and went to heaven Sept. 1999. He will be happy to help show Nate around. May God ease your pain and heal your broken hearts.

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Posted by J W Lemon on 6/25/2008 8:21:08 AM

That was so touching, the men responsible should be applauded for their efforts. Seems like they don't want to be identified because they don't want other employees to know they have hearts. But it's no disgrace to let people know you care abt. someone you never knew. I was a little boy and head dreams of railroading, so much so I'm retired L&N 1969/CSXT 2005 Switchman/ Engr. Atl., Ga.

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