Truck Driver Died After Being Thrown Back by Air Release from a Pressurized Tire Sidewall Failure, Michigan

Michigan Case Report: 17MI007


A 61-year-old male truck driver died in the winter of early 2017 when he was thrown onto a concrete floor as a result of air released from a pressurized tire sidewall failure. The decedent was a contract driver for an owner/operator; the owner operator’s trucks were leased by the company where the incident occurred. The decedent’s truck had a flat inside left tire on the rear axle of his truck; the tire was off bead. After several unsuccessful attempts to inflate the tire, the two mechanics working on the tire used a jack to raise the rear of the truck to take the pressure off of the tire. After several more unsuccessful attempts to inflate the tire, the mechanics removed the outside tire. After the outside tire was removed, the mechanics again attempted to inflate the tire; this time it was successful (they were able to get the bead) using a TSI Cheetah bead seating tool, but they could hear air leakage from the tire. Mechanic #1 asked the decedent to release the cheetah’s air brake. The tire was rotated and a piece of metal was found. Mechanic #2 left the scene to retrieve a tire plug kit. Mechanic #1 was positioned to the right of the tire. The decedent walked up to the left of Mechanic #1 (the decedent was standing directly in front of the tire) presumably to point out the metal. Mechanic #1 warned the decedent to move away while he removed the air chuck. The sidewall of the pressurized tire failed releasing the pressurized air. The force of air from the “explosion” launched the decedent backward. He landed approximately 12 feet away on his back and struck his head on the concrete floor. Emergency response was called and the decedent was transported to a local hospital where he died.

MIFACE identified the following key and possibly contributing factors:

  • The decedent was not trained on truck maintenance safety, including safe practices during tire maintenance.
  • The company’s program to ensure that only trained and authorized personnel were allowed entry to the maintenance area was not enforced.
  • A tire cage was not used during the attempted inflation and maintenance of a tire.

Truck Driver Died After Being Thrown Back by Air Release from a Pressurized Tire Sidewall Failure, Michiganpdf icon [PDF 1,002 KB]

Page last reviewed: October 9, 2019