NEW CASTLE, Pa.
A woman being chased by police in New Castle crashed into a cruiser from neighboring Shenango Township, killing one officer inside, state police said, and later told investigators she “did something stupid” by not stopping because her license was suspended.
The statements from Kylee Barletto, 25, of New Castle, were contained in a criminal complaint charging her with manslaughter of a law-enforcement officer and 15 other crimes in the crash that killed Shenango Township Officer William J. “Jerry” McCarthy IV, 60, on Thursday night.
The complaint says an officer in New Castle began chasing Barletto about 9:50 p.m. after he saw her nearly rear-end a vehicle and swerve into another lane.
Other city officers joined the chase, during which Barletto allegedly ran several stop signs before her Pontiac Sunbird crashed into a car driven by Shenango Officer Michael Lynch, in which McCarthy was a passenger.
The township officers responded when they learned of the chase and reports that she was driving erratically and known to have a suspended license.
Court records show Lynch had cited her for driving with a suspended license April 12, and that she had been cited for various traffic offenses, mostly for driving with a suspended license, on seven occasions since May 2011.
Investigating troopers said the township officers were preparing to assist but didn’t realize where Barletto’s car was when theirs was struck. Witnesses told police the cruiser was broadsided by Barletto’s car at Cascade Street and Warren Avenue.
“Officer William ‘Jerry’ McCarthy was a valued member of not only our department, but of all Lawrence County. He was a great police officer, but more than that, he was a great person to all that knew him,” Shenango Township Police Superintendent William Phillips said in a statement. “His dedication to helping those in need is unsurpassed. We were his ’Lil Brothers.’”
Lynch was taken to Jameson Hospital in New Castle for treatment of head and other injuries, and was in stable condition, state police said in the complaint. Barletto was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, where she was being treated and was interviewed by troopers shortly after midnight.
Barletto allegedly told one trooper, “I did something stupid,” and continued to tell police she fled because of her suspended license. Later in the interview, however, Barletto told troopers “there was something wrong with her vehicle and she couldn’t stop,” the complaint said.
Court records show police filed nine criminal charges and six traffic citations against Barletto, who was not immediately arraigned. The most-serious charge she faces is manslaughter of a police officer. Some other counts include homicide by vehicle, fleeing and eluding police, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault, with four citations for running stop signs and one each for careless driving and reckless driving.
Barletto’s medical condition was not immediately available.
Allene Blayney, 74, who lives just one block from the accident scene, was in her living room with her husband around 10 p.m. when they heard the sirens.
“I could hear a car in there just gunning it,” Blayney said. “And I said to my husband, ‘Those cops are chasing somebody.’”
Blayney said she watched from her front door but didn’t hear the crash.
When she learned what had happened, she was shocked.
“Everybody [in the neighborhood] was just like, ‘Why?’” Blayney said. “My heart aches for that girl [Barletto]. A 25-year-old girl should know better.”
Dennis Shields, 36, lives on Cascade about 100 feet from the scene of the accident. He said he was letting his dogs out, and his wife was getting ready for bed when he heard an “explosion” about 10 p.m. That’s when police and other emergency vehicles came rushing to the scene, he said. Shields rushed out front but was unable to talk to anyone to see what had happened.
“We didn’t know what to think. We didn’t know what happened,” Shields said. “It was just so loud.”
When he found out Friday morning one police officer was killed and another seriously injured, his heart dropped, he said.
“We felt really, really sorry for the police officers and their families,” Shields said. “We [the community] were all shocked that that happened.”