Mt. Pleasant driver arrested in connection with South Greensburg fatal hit-and-run
A stroke of luck led investigators to an East Huntingdon car dealership last week where they stumbled upon a car they believe was involved in a fatal hit-and-run of an elderly man in South Greensburg last month, according to police
But Lauren Gerritsen thinks her grandfather, Clarence Wolff, had something to do with getting investigators to the right spot.
“Knowing him, how he is, he had a lot to do with this,” she said.
Police on Thursday charged the driver of that car Jonathan A. McElroy, 42, of Mt. Pleasant, with hitting Wolff, 86, of Hempfield, on April 19 and then leaving the scene. McElroy was being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $100,000 bail.
Wolff died Tuesday at AHN Forbes Hospital in Monroeville from injuries he suffered when he was hit by a 2016 Chevrolet Cruze at 7:30 p.m. outside of DeGennaro’s Restaurant and Lounge on Broad Street. A plastic side mirror cap was left behind at the scene.
Investigators had been working since then to determine the identity of the driver. On April 24, they got a break, according to court documents.
A phone call from someone at Crivelli Chevrolet directed investigators to a car at their collision center that matched the description of one police gave in the days after the crash. South Greensburg Police Chief Scott Fanchalsky agreed to meet a county detective there to check it out.
But Fanchalsky went to the Crivelli collision center and the detective to a separate sales area, police said. That mix-up led to authorities finding the suspect’s vehicle at the dealership’s sales center, Fanchalsky said.
The car had a dent on the driver’s side hood, the front bumper was separated from the headlight and the car had recently been spray painted, according to court papers. McElroy, a salesman there, was at work when authorities arrived, Fanchalsky said.
McElroy initially told police the damage to his car was the result of a fight between him and another man where the pair fell into the car, police said.
“Initially, the suspect denied any involvement or knowledge of the accident,” Fanchalsky said.
But when authorities caught up with him Wednesday night, McElroy admitted to being the driver, he said.
“On his words, ‘he made the biggest mistake of his life,’ ” Fanchalsky said. “Why he didn’t come forth prior to our arrival at his residence yesterday, I can’t answer that question.”
Wolff’s family learned of the arrest hours after visiting a funeral home to prepare arrangements. Gerritsen said her grandfather was a healthy 86-year-old who took care of his adult son.
“I can’t really say I’m happy for it because I wish that none of this happened,” she said. “But it definitely is a relief to know that we finally get a little bit of closure from all of this and that the guy is not out there just living his life without any repercussions.”
The family is grateful for the community support and tireless police work. The arrest does bring them a little peace, but still questions linger as to why the driver didn’t stop.
“You know that when you left that scene and you saw what you did, you left, you knew that you were making a mistake,” said Gerritsen, who saw her grandfather get hit. “How can you sleep, how can you talk to people on the streets, how can you communicate with your family knowing everything that you did?”
Restaurant owner Jeanine DeGennaro has raised about $1,200 through a GoFundMe page. She initially said the money would be put toward a reward for the arrest and conviction of whoever was responsible for Wolff’s death.
In the event the reward wasn’t needed, DeGennaro said the money would be donated to Wolff’s family.
“The best thing that could happen, did happen,” Fanchalsky said. “He did admit his involvement, hopefully this gives the family peace of mind.”
McElroy didn’t have an attorney listed in online court records. A May 21 preliminary hearing is set.
Wolff, who went by the nickname “Fritz,” was an Air Force veteran and member of First United Methodist Church in Greensburg, according to his obituary. Wolff worked as a driver/salesman for Braun’s Baking Company of Greensburg prior to retirement. He took pride in his backyard and was an active member of the Fox Hill Athletic Association.
Visitation is scheduled for 3-7 p.m. Friday at Kepple-Graft Funeral Home. A funeral service will start at 10 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home. Interment will follow at Westmoreland County Memorial Park with military honors.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .