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An on-duty Shenango Township police officer was killed late Thursday after a woman being chased by police in a neighboring city for erratic driving crashed into his cruiser.
Shenango Township police officer Jerry McCarthy IV, 60, died after a woman being chased for erratic driving crashed her car into McCarthy’s cruiser. The part-time officer was in the passenger side of the cruiser when the woman’s vehicle, traveling at high speed, turned onto a road smashed into the McCarthy’s car.
Shenango Twp. Police Officer Michael Lynch, 35, was in the driver’s seat. He was released from Jamestown Hospital with fractures in his right hip and ankle. He is consulting with an orthopedic surgeon, said Lawrence County District Attorney Josh Lamancusa.
The driver, Kylee Barletto, 25, is being guarded by Youngstown police while being treated for non-life threatening injuries, including facial lacerations and head injuries, at St. Elizabeth Health Center that she suffered during the late Thursday crash near New Castle’s Cascade Park.
Barletto is facing charges including two counts of first-degree felony aggravated assault, second-degree felony manslaughter of a law enforcement officer, third-degree fleeing to elude an officer, third-degree felony causing an accident involving a death and misdemeanor charges of involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person and simple assault.
She faces a maximum of 71 years in prison on the charges.
She was also charged with driving without a license, her fifth citation for doing so since March 2012. She was also charged with running past four stop signs during the chase, records show.
Barletto told investigators she “did something stupid” and never stopped because she had a suspended license, according to the criminal complaint. She also told investigators something was wrong with her car and was unable to stop.
“Today is a tragic day,” Lamancusa said. “Yesterday we lost a brother, a good friend and a great man.”
Lamancusa said New Castle police tried to pull Barletto over at about 10:20 p.m. Thursday for driving erratically. Investigators said Barletto slowed down when officers turned on flashers, then sped away when the officer’s car pulled up to her car.
Barletto blew through four stop signs without stopping and made an abrupt turn. McCarthy and Lynch were running parallel with Barletto, trying to get ahead and possibly lay down spike strips. But after Barletto turned, she ran into McCarthy’s side of the cruiser at the intersection of Cascade Street and Warren Avenue. The impact knocked the cruiser 200 feet and into another police car, investigators said.
Lamancusa stopped short of calling the pursuit a chase.
“This was more of a follow with lights on,” Lamancusa said. “This was taking place in the city. It wasn’t an out-of-control effort.”
Lamancusa said Pennsylvania State Police investigators are trying to determine if Barletto’s claims that her car’s brakes failed are true. He said investigators have seized her car and are analyzing it.
“This truly highlights a situation that was a minor traffic violation,” Lamancusa said. “The decision that was made last night cost someone their life.”