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The longtime police officer who died while attempting to help a neighboring city chase an erratic driver who was fleeing from police was described by fellow law enforcement officers as a “jack of all trades.”
Jerry McCarthy IV, 60, was in the passenger side of a Shenango Township cruiser at 10:20 p.m. Thursday trying to run parallel with the driver so he could lay down spike strips to stop the chase when the driver Kylee Barletto turned and struck his car where he was sitting, investigators said.
He was taken to Jamestown Hospital where he died. Barletto is facing numerous charges that carry a maximum of 71 years in prison.
McCarthy was described by law enforcement officials as a versatile detective that was always professional and always in a good mood.
He was a husband and father of two sons, one daughter, a step son and a step daughter.
McCarthy spent more than 30 years working at Grove City College in Safety Services. He retired from there a few years ago.
One of his former colleagues said McCarthy was someone that everyone liked.
“Jerry was one of those guys if you didn’t like him, it was your own fault. His kids, he lived for his kids. Everything he could do for his children he would do,” said Mike Lengauer. “I tell ya what, it’s just like someone smacked me in the chest with a sledgehammer. He’s like a brother to me. He taught me a lot and I looked up to him.”
Lengauer worked with McCarthy for about five years.
McCarthy was hired in 2011 by the Lawrence County District Attorney’s office as a county detective and as a county humane agent.
He was hired one year ago to the day by the Shenango Township police department to work as a part-time patrol officer.
“As a humane agent, he dealt with a large percentage of the animal cases in our area,” said district attorney Josh Lamancusa. “His job was to protect animals from people.”
Between 50 and 60 officers went to Jamestown Hospital to support McCarthy and his partner, Michael Lynch, 35, who suffered a fractured ankle and hip in the crash.
Lamancusa said he hired McCarthy because he had experience and a perfect demeanor for a humane officer.
He said McCarthy had a “wellspring” of patience, was able to deal with people in high-stress and highly emotional situations and worked well with others.
Shenango Township Superintendent William Phillips called McCarthy a “great police officer.” Lois Winter with the Lawrence County Humane Society said everyone there will miss McCarthy’s warm smile and love for animals.
“It’s hard,” Winters said. “We are going to miss him on a personal level. He was a great guy.”
Many officers said they were too upset to talk about McCarthy.
“This affects everyone that has ever worn a police uniform,” Lamancusa said. “This is a loss for those of us who actually knew Jerry McCarthy. I aspire to be half the man Jerry McCarthy was.”