ALFRED, Maine (AP) — A Vietnam War veteran who confessed five years ago to killing a 4-year-old girl in a 1968 hit-and-run was trying to protect children when a woman drove her car onto a baseball field in Maine during a game, striking and killing him.
Screaming bystanders and ballplayers fled as Carol Sharrow, of Sanford, drove through an open gate onto the field Friday night, police said. Video shows the car driving around the infield, turning over home plate and then heading toward the stands behind third base.
Douglas Parkhurst, of West Newfield, was near the park’s main gate before he was hit and Sharrow sped away, police said. Parkhurst, who a coach said was the grandfather of one of the players, died on the way to the hospital. No one else was hurt.
“It was awful,” said Sanford resident, Karyn Bean, who said she saw Parkhurst being struck. “A car driving through the gate hitting a man who was pushing kids out of the way, then her driving up the road easily doing 50 to 60 miles per hour past us.
“It felt awful because we couldn’t do anything.”
Tim Curley, a coach, said he was standing in the third-base dugout as he heard squealing tires and watched a car crash through the gate after its driver yelled, “Open the gates!” Curley later recognized that the driver was Sharrow, who worked as his grandmother’s caretaker 12 years ago.
“I felt kind of helpless because at that point the only thing I knew was I cared about the safety of the kids on the ball field,” Curley said. “I immediately yelled: ‘Get off the field!’”
Curley’s son scattered with his teammates to the stands full of about 150 people. One boy in center field stood frozen, but escaped unscathed.
Sharrow was scheduled to appear in court later Monday to face a manslaughter charge. She was to have an attorney appointed to represent her then.
Sharrow has two previous drunken driving convictions in Maine and New Hampshire, according to Sanford police Det. Sgt. Matthew Jones. Authorities have declined to say whether alcohol was involved on Friday.
Parkhurst was never charged in the hit-and-run death that killed Carolee Ashby on Halloween night in 1968. The statute of limitations had long run out when Parkhurst walked into a police station in 2013 and confessed after two interviews with investigators.
In his four-page confession obtained by the Syracuse Post-Standard during its reporting about the case, Parkhurst said he and his brother had been drinking before he hit the girl. He said his brother was passed out in the back seat.
“While I drove through the city of Fulton, I heard a thud,” Parkhurst wrote in his confession, in which he estimated he had around three beers. “It sounded like I hit a dog. I don’t know where I hit that thing....”
Parkhurst said he didn’t see what he hit, and did not stop. He didn’t remember hitting the brakes, and then left Fulton.
“I don’t remember seeing any kids but I believe in my heart I hit the little Ashby girl with my car,” he wrote.
Parkhurst told police on the night of the hit-and-run that he hit a guard post, but admitted in the confession that was a lie.
“That did not happen, but I don’t know why the police never challenged me on this,” he wrote. “I wish they did and I would have told them the truth.”
Sanford schools offered counseling to students Monday. Curley said the community plans to hold an event for the young ballplayers later this week.
“I personally think the best think for these boys is to get back on the ball field,” he said.