Lawrence County police officer killed in chase, crash
William J. “Jerry” McCarthy IV ended every conversation with the words, “God bless. Be safe,” said those who remembered the fallen Lawrence County detective and humane officer as a talented and patient family man.
McCarthy was killed on Thursday on his one-year anniversary as a part-time Shenango police officer when a New Castle woman with a suspended driver's license slammed her car into the side of McCarthy's cruiser during a police chase.
Kylee Barletto, 25, faces charges of manslaughter of a law enforcement officer, homicide by vehicle, fleeing an officer, reckless endangerment and other crimes. The wreck in New Castle also injured Shenango Officer Michael Lynch, who was driving the cruiser.
“This was a minor traffic violation,” Lawrence County District Attorney Josh Lamancusa said on Friday. “Yes, this person should not have been driving without a license, but the decision that was made last night cost someone their life. And something that would have amounted to a traffic ticket is now a homicide charge.”
Lamancusa described McCarthy, 60, of Grove City as a “jack-of-all-trades,” investigating a variety of crimes as a county detective and dealing with animal complaints as the county humane officer.
“There's truly no greater man,” Lamancusa said. “I aspire to be half the man that he was.”
McCarthy was married with three children and two stepchildren. Lamancusa said he hired him in February 2011 as a humane officer and a detective, because of his patience and love of animals.
“(McCarthy) was a talker,” said an emotional David Henderson, a New Castle attorney and board member for the Lawrence County Humane Society, which worked with McCarthy. “He loved to tell you every detail. He didn't do the job with a heavy hand. He worked with people.”
McCarthy was first sworn in as an auxiliary borough police officer in January 1974. He resigned Jan. 1, 1997, and then worked as a security officer for Grove City College.
Shenango Police Supervisor William Phillips issued a statement that read, in part, “His dedication to helping those in need is unsurpassed. We were all his ‘Lil Brothers.'”
McCarthy's partner, Lynch, 35, could not be reached. He was released from Jameson Hospital in New Castle. He had fractures to his right leg and hip and head injuries.
Lamancusa expected that Barletto would be released Friday from St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown. Barletto's family members could not be reached.
Flags flew at half-staff across Lawrence County, including at schools and government offices, marking McCarthy's death.
New Castle police spotted Barletto driving erratically on Jefferson Street. They tried to stop her when she turned on Division Street about 9:50 p.m., a police complaint said. Barletto's license was suspended because of a conviction for a failure to appear for a court hearing on a citation, Lamancusa said.
Court records show Lynch had cited her for driving with a suspended license on April 12. She pleaded guilty to various traffic offenses on seven occasions since May 2011, according to court records.
Barletto refused to stop and ran four stop signs, Lamancusa said, as two New Castle police cruisers pursued. McCarthy and Lynch responded to help. The Shenango officers were driving parallel to the chase in an attempt to get ahead of it when Barletto ran a stop sign and hit Lynch's cruiser on the passenger side, where McCarthy was sitting.
Lamancusa said it wasn't a high-speed pursuit, but he could not say what speed Barletto was traveling when she hit the cruiser. State police are investigating.
During an interview at St. Elizabeth Health Center early Friday, Barletto told police, “I did something stupid,” and didn't stop when New Castle police tried to pull her over because her license was suspended, according to a criminal complaint filed against her. Later in the interview, she said something was wrong with her vehicle and she couldn't stop.
Lamancusa said the car was being examined.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Nonprofits replace humdrum charity 5Ks with rappelling
- Leader Times roundup: Freeport’s Clawson returns to WPIAL golf final
- Starkey: Two amazing Pirates fans
- Detectives looking into pair of shootings in Duquesne
- Pirates hit 3 HRs in rout of Red Sox
- Video posted online captures Wilkinsburg child’s injuries
- Police chase ends with shooting in Bell Township
- Steelers defense a long way from ‘greatest of all time’
- Kittanning’s explosive offense to face stiff challenge from stingy Highlands defenders
- Number of jobs in high-tech industry outpace workers in Pittsburgh, nation
- Steelers remain confident in ground game