West Leechburg woman, grandson grateful to escape serious injury in carjacking
West Leechburg resident Dolores Scratchard has battled postpartum depression and fears of something bad happening to her young son since he was born just over a year ago.
Those fears became reality when she walked out of the Westmoreland County Prison in Hempfield on Tuesday after visiting her husband and realized the car where she had left her 1-year-old baby, Adrian Pearlman, and her mother-in-law, Dorothy Pearlman, was gone.
“The only thing running through my head is, ‘Am I ever going to see my baby again?’” Scratchard recalled.
Pearlman, 65, said she was minding her own business when a man she had never seen before got into the passenger seat of her car and told her to drive.
When she refused, he became violent.
“He hit me in the jaw — he kept hitting me and hitting me,” she said. “Pretty soon, he climbed over into my driver’s side. … He opened the door and started pushing me out.”
According to police, Thomas Lee Williams, 36, of Philadelphia, had just been released from the jail at about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday when he attacked Pearlman in the parking lot, took her Kia Sorento and fled with Pearlman’s grandson in the back seat.
“I started screaming and screaming, ‘Help me! Help me! Help me!’” Pearlman said. “I was hysterical.”
Williams crashed two miles away in Youngwood about 15 minutes later, ran into a wooded area but was apprehended. He is charged with kidnapping, robbery of a vehicle and two counts each of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He faces a Dec. 21 preliminary hearing.
The family said they still are in shock from Tuesday’s events, but thankful for everyone who helped them.
“It’s finally hitting me what happened,” Pearlman said.
Luckily Adrian and Pearlman came out of the incident fairly unscathed except for a few scratches and bruises. Pearlman takes blood-thinner medication, so she began bruising almost immediately.
“The baby’s doing really well,” Pearlman said. “He was very scared of everybody (after the carjacking); he’s doing much better now.”
Despite everything that’s happened, the family hopes Williams receives the help he needs and are trying to move on with their lives.
“I definitely, genuinely believe it was a wrong place, wrong time kind of deal,” Scratchard said.
Pearlman and Scratchard said they likely won’t return for any more visits at the prison.
“My son told me never to come back to that prison,” Pearlman said. “He has a hearing on the 20th, and he should be getting out then.”
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, email@example.com or via Twitter @emilybalser.