The Associated Press
CLARION, Pa. - The inventor of The Club, James Winner, has died in a head-on collision in western Pennsylvania.
Two other people also died when Winner's sport utility vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic Tuesday "for unknown reasons" and collided with their car, State Police said. The investigation continued yesterday.
Winner, 81, invented the popular anti car-theft device, and his Sharon, Pa.-based company Winner International sold more than 10 million of them. He also was widely known for his philanthropy in western Pennsylvania.
In a statement yesterday, company officials said it was "a very difficult time for all of us and the family would request that you honor their privacy."
In the 1980s, Winner developed the steering-wheel lock known as The Club after his car was stolen. He sold the first one in western Pennsylvania before creating Winner International.
Winner also owned hotels, schools and businesses, including Winner Steel, which he eventually sold. He also had a home in Hollywood, Fla.
"Jim was just a great man and did more behind the scenes than people even knew," the Rev. Larry Haynes, who worked with Winner through the Shenango Valley Foundation community group, told the Sharon Herald.
Winner was born in the town of Transfer and worked on his family's farm from the age of 5. He attended school in a one-room schoolhouse before joining the Army at age 17.
Authorities said the other two people killed were driver Bobby Jarrett, 82, of Tionesta, Pa. and passenger Raymond Fair, 76, of Tylersburg, Pa.