Worker crushed to death in York

YORK -- A Spartanburg man was killed Monday when a piece of machinery fell on top of him at a York auto parts factory, authorities said.

Around 11:30 a.m., Wade Scharff, 54, was repairing a piece of equipment at Beckenbach USA, in the East York Industrial Park, when a large, metal disc fell on top of him, said Interim York County Coroner Sabrina Gast. She said Scharff was trapped underneath the disc and died from injuries before help arrived.

"He was pinned underneath the machine," Gast said. The official cause of death was multiple crush wounds, she said.

Gast said the tragedy appeared to be an accident.

Scharff was not an employee at Beckenbach, but a contracted mechanic with Pennsylvania-based Engel Machinery. He worked out of a regional office in Spartanburg, company officials said.

Engel Machinery issued a news release Monday afternoon stating the "industrial accident" was being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and local authorities. A company spokeswoman said more details about events leading up to the accident, what kind of equipment Scharff was servicing and his experience with the company were not available Monday. The news release said Scharff was in York on a service call.

Officials at Beckenbach USA, a manufacturer of plastic auto parts that moved to York in 2005, declined to comment when reached by The Herald on Monday, referring all questions about the accident to Engel Machinery.

Ernie Thigpen, preacher at Spartanburg's Central Church of Christ and a close friend, said Scharff was a talented mechanic who enjoyed building and fixing things on his free time.

"Wade could fix anything. He was a true do-it-yourselfer," Thigpen said. "Wade was a terrific guy, and the best possible kind of friend."

Thigpen, speaking on behalf of Scharff's family, said Scharff left behind a wife of many years, three children, two grandchildren and another grandchild on the way.

"He really loved people, and he was a great father and grandfather," Thigpen said. "We're confident God will see all of them through this difficult time."

Funeral arrangements were not available Monday.