COLUMBIA, TN (WSMV) - A United Auto Workers member was killed on Tuesday morning after he was hit by a mother dropping her kids off at a daycare.
The accident happened at the Southgate overpass near the entrance to the General Motors plant around 6:15 a.m.
Columbia Police said in a news release that Roy McCombs, 55, of Columbia, TN, was crossing the road to being strike duty near the picket line and was struck by a parent taking her children to the daycare located on General Motors property.
Police said preliminary information and witness statements suggest McCombs was not actively picketing at the moment of the crash, but attempting to cross the roadway near the picket line.
Police said the driver of the vehicle, General Motors and the UAW was cooperating with the investigation.
After the incident, the union told its members they could no longer stand along the bridge.
A lot of the UAW members said they are shocked and saddened by the accident.
“I didn’t hear about it until late this morning and I thought holy smokes is it true? Yeah it’s true. There’s a lot of disbelief which is just human nature. How can something like that happen?” said Eric Blackmore.
McCombs was picketing when he was struck by a mother driving an Equinox.
“Unfortunately, things happen. Even here I see people crossing that white line coming over in the road. We got to back up. People don’t realize that,” said Blackmore.
Blackmore said despite the danger he knows they have to continue to make their voices heard.
“I’m from New York City and I’m used to traffic, believe me, but from some people yeah. They tell me to pull back. I know when to pull back when I see somebody coming, but I always keep my eyes open to what’s going on. I got to be out there to show the people and that’s how they show their support. Certainly, he would want us to carry on. If it was important enough for him, it’s important enough for us,” said Blackmore.
The local UAW president of said they are working on planning a vigil that will be held at the UAW Union Hall.
The national United Auto Workers issued a statement on Tuesday:
Roy A. McCombs tragically lost his life today on a picket line standing up for a better life for himself and his coworkers. On behalf of the UAW, we offer condolences to Brother McCombs and family, friends and co-workers. Today’s accident is heartbreaking for UAW Spring Hill members. We will continue to work to ensure that safety is a priority on the picket line.
General Motors also released a statement, saying they were saddened to hear the news:
We are deeply saddened to confirm an employee death occurred this morning from a vehicle pedestrian accident on a public road near GM’s Spring Hill Assembly Plant’s south entrance. We offer our thoughts and prayers to the employee’s family and all who are impacted by this tragedy. General Motors is committed to employee safety and plant leadership is working closely with authorities to investigate and understand what happened.