A Vietnam veteran who “gave his life” while trying to save others as a car sped through a youth baseball game in Maine had previously confessed to being on the other side of the wheel of a deadly accident – a decades-old hit-and-run that left a 4-year-old girl dead, police said.
Douglas Parkhurst was killed trying to shield the kids when Carol Sharrow, 51, mowed him down after driving onto the field at Goodall Park in Sanford on Friday during the fifth inning of a Babe Ruth League game, cops and witnesses said. Witnesses said Parkhurst – a grandfather who told cops he was behind the wheel of a car that fatally struck little Carolee Ashby in New York in 1968 – tried to shut a gate to stop the crazed driver, but was hit and killed.
Carolee’s family said the irony of his death was lost on no one.
“I am overwhelmed by it all,” the girl’s sister, Darlene Ashby McCann told the Portland Press-Herald. “He left us all these years with nothing, not even an ‘I’m sorry.’”
McCann said her family struggled for 44 years over the unsolved killing of Carolee until a tip led Parkhurst to confess in 2013, telling police he was behind the wheel of the 1962 Buick that cut the little girl down in Fulton, New York. Parkhurst died on his way to the hospital shortly after he was struck last week.
“It feels it has made a full circle,” she told the newspaper. “Now I am relieved. I truly am. The same thing that happened to my sister happened to him. It made a complete circle. Now it is time to move on.”
Zachary McMurty, 13, was on the pitcher’s mound was Sharrow drove onto the field, sending everyone screaming and headed for the exits. The teen’s mother, Lisa Thibodeau, said she watched a grisly scene unfold from the stands as Sharrow repeatedly rammed a set of closed gates to get out of the ballpark before setting her sights on another gate, where she fatally struck Parkhurst.
“The coaches were awesome,” Thibodeau said. “They tried to get the kids out.”
Other witnesses told WMTW that Parkhurst tried to shut a gate so Sharrow wouldn’t be able to drive off. Parkhurst, of West Newfield, later died on the way to a hospital. No other injuries were reported.
Reps from the Sanford Maine Little League, meanwhile, praised Parkhurst for springing into action when Sharrow drove onto the field.
“We want to share our heartfelt gratitude that physically all of the players from Babe Ruth and Little League are safe and our deep sorrow to the family of the brave man that gave his life tonight protecting others,” league officials posted on Facebook.
The death of Ashby – who flew 133 feet through the air after being struck while walking on a road with her older sister on Halloween in 1968 – went unsolved until 2013. That’s when Parkhurst was met at his then-home in Oswego, New York, by two investigators from the Fulton (New York) Police Department, according to the Press Herald.
Parkhurst was never charged in the girl’s death because the statute of limitations had expired, but signed a four-page confession after two interviews with investigators. In the confession, Parkhurst said he and his brother had been drinking before hitting Ashby with his car as his brother was sleeping in the back seat.
“I know in my heart and I am 99.9 percent sure I hit that little girl with my 1962 tan Buick Special,” Parkhurst wrote, according to the Press Herald, citing a series of articles by the Post-Standard in Syracuse. “I am oh so sorry. I can’t change anything but I hope this apology will be accepted and I beg for forgiveness.”
Sanford Police Det. Sgt. Matthew Jones said they found no connection between Sharrow and Parkhurst and that they were “complete strangers.”
“Mr. Parkhurst appears to be the victim of circumstance of being where he was when he was,” Jones told The Post. “It’s probably one of the most unusual set of circumstances that I’ve ever come across. There seems to be a lot of coincidences in this case, which is certainly of the strangest I’ve seen.”
Sharrow cooperated with investigators after being taken into custody, Jones said. He declined to indicate what she said.
Sharrow, who has been charged with manslaughter, was ordered held on $500,000 bail during her initial court appearance Monday. She did not enter a plea, WMTW reports.
Police told the Press Herald that Sharrow has two previous drunken driving convictions, including one for aggravated drunken driving in New Hampshire. Investigators declined to indicate whether alcohol was involved in Friday’s fatal incident.