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A 59-year-old Intransit Container Inc. employee was killed yesterday morning when a tire on a large industrial vehicle somehow flew off, striking him and throwing him into a nearby forklift.

Paul Harding of Spencer was pronounced dead at 10:18 a.m. after he had been taken to UMass Memorial Medical Center — University Campus. The accident was reported around 9:37 a.m.

Police Sgt. Gary J. Quitadamo said Mr. Harding suffered blunt force trauma to his head and body.

“For some reason, something tragically went wrong and the tire was propelled off the machine with great force and struck the victim,” the sergeant said. “The tire hit him, throwing him and the tire into another piece of equipment.”

Mr. Harding was changing a tire on the vehicle at the time of the accident. The thick, six-foot-high rubber tire came off with massive force, police said.

It is unclear where Mr. Harding was standing when he was struck by the tire; he was alone when the accident occurred.

The company is located at 53 Wiser Ave. and is along the railroad tracks. The accident occurred somewhere in the rear of the lot on the Greenwood Street side.

Mr. Harding was working on a Terex Superstacker, which takes large containers off trucks or railroad cars and stacks them. Several of the large containers were in the company’s lot yesterday.

A visibly shaken Stephen W. Cotrone, president of Intransit, declined to comment yesterday.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration was called and came to the scene yesterday, OSHA spokesman John M. Chaves said. An investigation is under way, but he would not comment further on the incident.

Sgt. Quitadamo said the company called OSHA and was cooperative with authorities yesterday.

The Police Department will keep in touch with OSHA as it completes an investigation, which could take up to six months.

“This is a very tragic accident at this point,” Sgt. Quitadamo said.

When police arrived they found Mr. Harding severely injured in a clear area of the company’s lot. A co-worker was with Mr. Harding, but had left moments before the accident.

Police found pieces of the tire rim and secure rings broken.

The gated facility asks people to enter at the Millbury Street entrance. Employees entered the Greenwood Street side yesterday.

A sign posted on the high fence there reads, “This is a U.S. Customs bonded facility. … All visitors and unauthorized personnel must report to the main office.”

There are two offices on the site. Intransit handles international traffic of containers and must comply with safety precautions outlined by Customs.
Worcester Telegram

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