What started as a routine traffic stop of a New Castle woman who police said was driving erratically and who has a history of driving without a valid license didn't end that way.
Kylee Barletto, 27, got behind the wheel with a suspended license again Thursday night. But when police tried to pull her over just before 10 p.m., she sped off and soon after crashed into a police cruiser, killing one officer and seriously injuring another who had cited her less than a month ago for driving without a valid license, according to Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa.
Ms. Barletto is charged with manslaughter of a law enforcement officer, homicide by vehicle, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and careless driving, among other crimes.
"Something that would have amounted to a traffic ticket is now homicide charges," Mr. Lamancusa said.
Two Shenango officers were attempting to get far enough ahead of Ms. Barletto to lay spike strips when she slammed into their police car, killing William J. McCarthy and injuring Michael Lynch, Mr. Lamancusa said.
In a somber news conference Thursday morning, Mr. Lamancusa characterized 60-year-old Officer McCarthy as a dedicated family man.
"We lost a brother," Mr. Lamancusa said. "We lost a good friend. We lost a great man."
Mr. Lamancusa said he hired Officer McCarthy in February 2011 as a detective and humane officer because he was unflappable and patient.
"[He] always made you feel good," Mr. Lamancusa said. "I don't think I ever even heard him swear."
Officer McCarthy is survived by his wife, three children and two stepchildren.
While many of the details surrounding the crash that killed Officer McCarthy are still under investigation, the incident began when police saw Ms. Barletto "weaving all over the road," Mr. Lamancusa said.
New Castle police initially tried to pull Ms. Barletto over by activating their lights -- and she began to slow down.
But she "suddenly accelerated," according to the complaint. Mr. Lamancusa said officers maintained a safe distance and he was reluctant to call the incident a high-speed pursuit.
"This wasn't an out-of-control situation. This was more of a follow with lights on," Mr. Lamancusa said, noting, "The officers who were hit weren't even part of the following effort."
Ms. Barletto crashed into the passenger side of Officer McCarthy's cruiser, which traveled another 200 feet before striking another vehicle and coming to rest, Mr. Lamancusa said.
Mr. Lamancusa said he wasn't sure how fast any of the vehicles were traveling.
Officer Lynch, who was driving Officer McCarthy's cruiser, suffered a fractured hip and ankle, but was released from the hospital.
Mr. Lamancusa did not say that drugs or alcohol were a factor, but indicated that the results of blood tests are pending.
Ms. Barletto told a paramedic that she "remembered being chased by the police," but wasn't sure if her driver's license was suspended, according to the complaint.
She told police that "there was something wrong with her vehicle and she couldn't stop," but also said, "I did something stupid."
She repeated "That was stupid" several times, according to the complaint.
Russel Johnson, a neighbor of Ms. Barletto, said she often drove so fast down their narrow gravel street that "you could hear her coming a mile away."breaking - region - neigh_north
Alex Zimmerman: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-3909 and on Twitter: @AGZimmerman.