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Upper Burrell man killed in Gilpin forklift accident

July 17, 2018 GMT

Michael Zanotti was always helping others, and, tragically, he died in an equipment accident Saturday while he was doing just that in Gilpin.

Zanotti, 51, of Upper Burrell, died from injuries he suffered when a forklift he was operating overturned on him at a family farm, his family and authorities said.

″(He was) definitely a selfless person,” his son Michael Zanotti, 23, of Lower Burrell said. “He was always putting others first. Anybody that he knew he could help or impact in a positive way, he was always doing so.”

The incident happened just after 4:30 p.m. at 277 Novinger Road. Zanotti was pronounced dead at Allegheny Valley Hospital about an hour later.

His wife, Christine, said her husband was helping someone with a jack-knifed tractor at her brother’s farm when the accident happened.

“He got the guy unstuck, and they were taking the equipment back to the farm, and he was going down a steep hill and it evidently lost control and turned over on him,” she said.

Gilpin police Chief Lee Schumaker said police are investigating the incident, which he described as accidental.

“It’s a shame,” Schumaker said.

Zanotti was a lifelong Alle-Kiski Valley resident. A graduate of Burrell High School, he worked as a driver/mechanic for Galli Beer Distributing in New Kensington. Previously, he worked for Pepsi, Mike’s Tree Service and Big Foot.

He enjoyed working on cars and trucks, especially his 1969 GMC truck known as “Grumpy,” which was also his nickname.

“He loved his 1963 Comet,” said Christine Zanotti, 53. “He had so many vehicles over the years, collecting them and selling them, and going to car shows. He built a monster truck with my son.”

Michael Zanotti said his dad believed in living life to the fullest.

“One of his quotes that we live by (is) ‘It’s not about the destination but the journey getting there,’ ” he said. “He always told us that before we’d go anywhere just in case some type of event would happen. Part of the fun is getting there.”

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by his mother, Frances Hagymaski Zanotti of Lower Burrell; daughters Katelyn A. Zanotti and Julia A. Zanotti of Upper Burrell; stepdaughter Danielle A. McCartney of New Eagle; sister Paulette Zanotti of Lower Burrell; brother Joseph Zanotti of Wexford; and several grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Rusiewicz Funeral Home in Lower Burrell. Funeral services will be held there at 11 a.m. Thursday.