NEW CASTLE, Pa. - Shenango Township police Officer William "Jerry" McCarthy III was not likely to leave a conversation without winking his eye and a offering a sincere "God bless you," said a longtime colleague and friend.
District Judge David Rishel, who also served as Shenango Township fire chief, was among the dozens of people who paid their respects to McCarthy during the initial day of calling hours for the fallen officer on Monday.
"If you knew Jerry, you had to like him," said Rishel. "I always told Jerry he didn't need me to show up for court. He's come in and met with people and before you know they'd be shaking hands. He was probably one of the nicest men I've ever met in my life.
Tribune Chronicle / Virginia Shank
These artificial roses were sent anonymously to Shenango Township for family and colleagues of fallen officer William “Jerry” McCarthy.
McCarthy, 60, was killed and another officer seriously injured Thursday night following a high-speed chase.
Around 10 p.m., New Castle police spotted a car driving erratically and gave chase until the driver, 26-year-old Kylee Barletto, crashed into a Shenango police car at Cascade Street and Warren Avenue, according to reports. The Shenango officers were looking for the chase to assist New Castle police.
McCarthy was pronounced dead at Jameson Hospital in New Castle. Shenango officer Michael Lynch, 35, was in serious condition at the hospital.
Barletto, of New Castle, was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown with facial lacerations and head injuries.
McCarthy's colleagues from the Shenango Township police department declined to comment. However, Shenango Township Supervisor Larry Herman said McCarthy was the only police officer he met who could issue a speeding ticket or citation and walk away on good terms with the recipient.
"He just had that way about him. People respected him and actually ended up thanking him when he was done talking to them," Herman said. "He could give you a ticket and you would be so mad, but by the time he was done with you he was your best friend."
Shenango police cars lined up along the sidewalk, the first one decorated in honor of McCarthy. Officials confirmed it was his uniform hanging in the back passenger window. Officials said a dozen artificial roses with McCarthy's image on them were sent to the township anonymously - 10 of which are to go to the family and the other two to the police station.
Michael Carpenter, a Wayne Township resident, said he didn't know McCarthy but wanted to pay his respects anyway.
"It's really sad that something like this happened," he said. "You just feel so bad, so very, very bad."
Viewing will continue from 1 to 7 p.m. today at St. Vitus Church, 910 S. Mercer St., New Castle. A funeral Mass will be at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed by a procession and burial at Crestview Cemetery in Grove City.
Officials said there has been an abundance of community support.
"We're hoping everyone comes to the township building after the funeral on Wednesday," said Shenango Township Supervisor Russell Riley. "So many people have been donating food and asking what they can do to help. It just shows the kind of community Shenango Township is, that we have in Lawrence County."
In addition to his wife, Patty Jo, and his parents, he leaves two sons, a daughter, a stepdaughter, stepson and six grandchildren.
"This is just a bitter pill to swallow," Rishel said. "He'll be missed. It will be very hard for anyone else to fill his shoes."