NORTHERN CAMBRIA - Michael Paronish Jr.'s life changed dramatically on Feb. 1, 2008, when his father died in a traffic accident on Nicktown Hill Road in Barr Township.
Michael Paronish Sr., 42, was killed when his vehicle was struck by another vehicle that went out of control on the icy road. His vehicle rolled over and then struck a third vehicle.
"It was devastating, and it hasn't got much easier," said Michael Jr., who was a passenger in his father's vehicle at the time of the accident.
Michael Jr. said he was always close to his father, who owned and operated Alternative Demolition, a Northern Cambria demolition company. He also had served on the Northern Cambria school board and was a volunteer assistant wrestling coach.
"He was my best friend and my wrestling coach," Michael Jr. said. "He and I were very close. We did everything together - hunting and fishing."
Michael Jr., now 21, a 2006 graduate of Northern Cambria High School, had helped his father with his business since he was 8 years old.
"My job was cleaning the garbage out of the trucks to earn a couple of dollars to go to the candy store. I started to run the equipment and take on a bigger role when I was in high school," Michael Jr. said. "I was to take over the business when dad retired."
After taking business management courses at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown where he was on the wrestling team and at Penn Highlands Community College and then working for a construction firm, Michael Jr. recently reopened his father's business.
"His father ran a nice business. He was well respected around the area. It is nice to see that he is doing this to preserve his father's legacy. It is a terrific thing to do," said Jeff Lantzy, president of the Northern Cambria Area Business Alliance.
While specializing in demolition work, Michael Jr. also plans to do excavation and landscaping work.
His uncle Andy Paronish is helping him get the business up and running.
"He is my right-hand man," Michael Jr. said.
The reopened business recently completed an excavating job in Hastings and a demolition job in Northern Cambria and hopes to secure additional jobs in the Altoona, Johnstown and Indiana areas.
"If the job is worth it, we will go," Michael Jr. said.