W&LE Manager Ran ‘Unstoppable’ Trains

Denzel Washington may have played a locomotive engineer in the movie Unstoppable, but a Wheeling & Erie Railway road foreman actually was at the controls even if you never see him.

Steve Stertzbach, a Stark County resident, told The Repository that he operated about 97 percent of the trains seen in the film. During scenes in which Washington and his co-star were in the locomotive cab of a moving train, Stertzbach was in the locomotive nose operating the train with a remote control unit.

Stertzbach got his movie role after helping director Tony Scott scout for filming locations on the Wheeling.

The job had its perks. The Repository reported that during the five months of production, Stertzbach received his regular railroad salary plus overtime. The filming required him to work five- and  six-day weeks, many of them involving 13-hour shifts. Stertzbach also received $60 per day for expenses, a hotel and on-set meals paid for by the film company, and the use of a 2010 Chevy Equinox.

He also received another unexpected benefit. Director Scott sent Stertzbach a signed leather-bound copy of the script.

Stertzbach told The Repository that he once talked with Washington for 45 minutes during some downtime. After the filming of one scene, Stertzbach said Washington approached him, shook his hand, and said, “Man, I want to thank you. You really made me look good in these shots.”

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