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Rostraver gun shop owner in critical condition after hit-and-run

| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A well-known Rostraver gun shop owner suffered critical injuries when a vehicle struck him Tuesday night while he was in his wheelchair near his business.

Rostraver police are looking for the driver of the unknown vehicle that struck Byron White, 74, in his driveway along Route 136 just before 6 p.m.

The accident occurred near White's business, The Gun Rack, which he opened in 1985 after losing his steel mill job.

Harry Schmidt, a longtime friend and gunsmith for White, opened the shop as usual Wednesday as White was being treated at UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh.

White is paralyzed on his left side because of a series of strokes more than a decade ago and he uses a wheelchair to get around. He was leaving the shop to head to his nearby home when he was struck, Schmidt said.

“Somebody went off the road, through two mailboxes and hit him in his driveway,” Schmidt said.

White suffered internal bleeding, a crushed pelvis and a number of broken ribs, Schmidt said. A UPMC Mercy spokeswoman said White was in critical condition Wednesday afternoon.

White's wife, Barbara, found him after the accident.

“She had just locked the back door (to the shop) when she heard something, and she didn't know what it was. It was like a crunch,” Schmidt said. “She walked up to the house and he wasn't there. She started walking back and he started yelling from the neighbor's yard that he was hit.”

White is known for his vast knowledge of firearms and for his collection of World War II German military knives and Nazi-era items, according to a profile of him published in the Valley Independent newspaper two years ago.

Schmidt said despite his physical difficulties, White went to work at the shop every day.

“He'd give you the shirt off his back. He really would,” Schmidt said. “He's just one of the nicest people I know.”

He said he can't fathom how the driver could leave the scene.

“That's just ignorant,” Schmidt said. “I don't know how someone could hit a man in a wheelchair and go.”

Anyone with information about the accident is asked to call Rostraver police at 724-929-8811.

Jennifer Reeger is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or jreeger@tribweb.com.

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