BINGHAMTON, N.Y.—A "freak" accident on May 5 at Kost Tire and Muffler in Binghamton has claimed the life of 60-year-old employee Don Hawk of Windsor, N.Y.
Another Kost employee, Rocco Dirico, 50, lost control of a 1990 Chevrolet van while driving it into a service bay. The van struck Mr. Hawk, pinning him between the vehicle and a work bench.
Captain Roger Shaller of the Binghamton Police Department said Mr. Hawk was taken to Wilson Hospital in Johnson City, N.Y., where he died from his injuries.
Dave Kost, retail operations manager for the 45-location dealership, said the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (NYDMV) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) both investigated the incident. "They found that it was just a freak of nature accident," he said.
NYDMV attributed the accident to a "runaway" vehicle caused by a stuck throttle, Mr. Kost said.
After the accident, the van was taken to another auto service facility for inspection, Mr. Shaller said, and all components of the brake system and the accelerator pedal and linkage were checked and no mechanical problems were found.
According to the police report, the owner had routine maintenance, including an oil change and lubrication, performed on the vehicle at another service facility. The vehicle was then brought to Kost for new tires, Mr. Shaller added.
No charges were filed. "As far as we're concerned," he said, "it's (the investigation) completed."
Diane Brayden, OSHA area director in Syracuse, N.Y., said the agency's inspectors didn't find any violations at Kost Tire related to the accident and also consider the case closed.
Messrs. Hawk and Dirico were long-time employees of Kost Tire with a combined 45 years' experience.
"Both of them worked for my father," Mr. Kost said. "It was a hard loss for me."
Mr. Hawk was married and is survived by "a couple of grown children," Mr. Kost said.
Asked if there had been any other moving vehicle accidents at any of Kost's locations, Mr. Kost said about nine years ago a customer was coming in for brake repair, lost control and "drove in our parking lot and went right through a showroom."
"We have never had an injury even at a location in a deal anything like this," he added.
Since the accident, Mr. Kost has had discussions with OSHA and a consulting engineer about altering bays to protect workers.
"In most cases, 99 percent of the time, there's enough equipment in there (a service bay) that would have stopped something like that," he said.
"Maybe all the tire bays could be altered," he added, but no one has come up with a solution yet.