Girard police officer hit by vehicle is identified

Staff report


The Girard police officer injured by a hit-skip driver early Saturday has been identified as Capt. John Villecco.

Girard police said the captain suffered a fractured left wrist and was treated at St. Elizabeth Health Center.

Calling the incident an aggravated vehicular assault, Police Chief Jeffrey L. Palmer said a hit-skip suspect has been identified, but, so far, no arrest has been made, and no charges have been filed. Capt. John Norman is investigating.

Activating his overhead lights, Capt. Villecco pulled up behind a stopped vehicle in the southbound passing lane in the 900 block of South State Street, arresting its driver on a drunken-driving charge at 1:05 a.m.

The captain inventoried the stopped vehicle and retrieved its driver’s wallet and keys before arranging for it to be towed to an impoundment lot.

While he was doing this, a fast-moving southbound vehicle went left of center and hit him while he was outside his cruiser, despite his attempts to leap out of the way, police said.

Girard Patrolman Steve Lewis, who was transporting the drunken-driving suspect to the police station, saw this in his rearview mirror and pursued the hit-skip driver, police said.

The hit-skip driver pulled into a used-car dealership, drove to the back of the lot, stopped the vehicle he was driving and fled on foot into the woods, police said.

Patrolman Lewis returned to the captain’s aid, while the Ohio State Highway Patrol and several other police departments continued the search.

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