Allen Craft, owner and founder of Craft Tire Inc. in Uniontown, was killed Dec. 14 when an off-the-road tire weighing some 8,000 pounds accidentally fell on him, authorities said. He was 55.
Glenn J. Heller, a salesman at the dealership, said Mr. Craft was with another employee at the time of the accident, but the other employee did not see the incident. The employee was moving other tires with a forklift, heard the accident and immediately used the forklift to lift the fallen tire.
Marisa Springer, a deputy coroner for the Fayette County Coroner's office, said Mr. Craft was killed instantly from blunt force trauma to the head, chest and abdomen. She said the death was ruled an accident. The Pennsylvania State Police contacted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but Ms. Springer was not sure if OSHA had launched an investigation.
Mr. Heller said Mr. Craft was very safety conscious, and the incident seemed to be a freak accident.
Mr. Craft was a member of the former International Tire and Rubber Association (ITRA), now the Tire Industry Association (TIA) as well as community groups. Mr. Heller said Mr. Craft founded the business about 30 years ago. Craft Tire consists of the Uniontown repair shop and a retread shop in Greenville, Ohio.
Employees were adamant about returning to work after the accident, Mr. Heller said.
``That's what he wanted us to do,'' Mr. Heller told Tire Business. ``He wanted us to work and produce tires, so that's what we'll do. And I told the guys that's what we'll do until someone tells us to stop.''
He said he's not sure if the family has made any decisions yet about the business. Craft Tire employs 30 in Uniontown and about 60 in Ohio.
A seven-year veteran of the business, Mr. Heller said Mr. Craft was a ``fantastic'' boss. ``He was the best guy I ever worked for. He cared about his business and his employees.''
Mr. Craft also cared very much for his family and seemed to be very happy with his life.
``He was on top of the world right now,'' Mr. Heller said. ``That's what made it so tragic.''
Mr. Craft is survived by his parents John and Alveda Craft; his wife Tessie Kell Craft; his daughters Jill C. John, Wendy Craft and Jamie Craft; and his brother Barry Craft; among other relatives.