Urban sculptor killed by breakaway trailer

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A trailer broke free from the back of a truck Thursday night, killing the founder of Urban Tree Forge in Lincoln-Lemington.

John Metzler, 46, was struck shortly after 8 p.m., according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office. He was taken to UPMC Presbyterian, where he later died. An autopsy is pending.

Police are investigating whether the U-Haul trailer was secured properly to the truck. It broke free after it hit a pothole. Police are not releasing the name of the truck driver and said accident investigators are working with homicide detectives.

Mr. Metzler's sculptures and the work of other artists and woodworkers sit and hang in the showroom of the Urban Tree Forge, 1004 Washington Blvd. He founded the warehouse and workshop two years ago on the site of the former Elias Studios.

Mr. Metzler grew up in Crafton and Sheraden. "I climbed trees as a kid," he said in an interview with the Post-Gazette for an article that ran May 2. Restoring a 1939 Chris-Craft boat with his father "was my indoctrination into working with wood."

After serving in the Marines, he returned to Pittsburgh and worked for a tree service, and as a landscaper and a carpenter. In night school at the Community College of Allegheny County, he earned associates degrees in civil engineering and industrial design.

Mr. Metzler apparently was working on a sculpture in front of his facility when the trailer hit him. The noise of his chain saw and protective earmuffs may have kept him from hearing the breakaway trailer.

First Published May 14, 2010 12:15 PM


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