My Story

My Story: Lurri Schoenrock


In 2013, our youngest son, Colton, was working as a rodbuster on a civil construction job in Kansas. He had reported to work at 6 a.m. like any other day, but this day would be different.

At 10 a.m., his supervisor informed everyone that they’d be getting off work at 2 p.m., only to report back to work that night at 10 because the concrete crew needed help pouring foundations. During the eight hours off between shifts, I had spoken to Colton because he couldn’t sleep.

Colton reported to work at 10 p.m. as instructed, as he and his co-workers were told they wouldn’t have a job if they didn’t. Colton worked from 10 p.m. Thursday until 1:30 p.m. Friday. He spent 15.5 hours working a different shift than his body was used to. I spoke with him when he got off work, and he promised me he was going to sleep at the house the workers had rented before heading home (he lived three hours away).

Instead, Colton made the decision to drive home because he wanted to see his 11-day-old son. He fell asleep 90 minutes into the drive. His SUV veered off the road, rolled down an embankment and stopped after hitting a tree. Colton was killed instantly. He was 23 years old.


Fast-forward to 2018. I finally landed with my feet on the ground after the tragedy of losing Colton. I made the decision to go back to school and study occupational safety and health. See, in 2008, I was injured at work.

I worked for the same company that Colton did when he was killed. Colton lost his life as a result of fatigue, and I had lost partial use of my dominant arm from a workplace accident. I was on disability, as they told me I could never do any of the jobs that I had done before.

I started school in 2019 at Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, AL. I transferred all the college credits I had from a local community college and took the plunge. When I started school, I was just going to get my associate degree. But when I was about done, my advisor approached me about going on to get my bachelor’s degree. She knew my story and pushed me to do more.

I’ve now earned my Master of Science in OSH and am working toward my doctorate. I’m now back to working full time. I love my job and the people I get to work with every day. If I help just one person on this journey, I’ve done what I set out to do. Colton and my family are with me every day as I make this journey. Some days are harder than others, but I know Colton is looking down and smiling – knowing that I never gave up and that his story can help others.

Lurri Schoenrock

Lurri Schoenrock
Plant Safety and Continuous Improvement Manager
Smithfield Foods
Fairbury, NE

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