Homicide by Vehicle Charge Filed for Deadly 2018 Wrong-Way Crash on Turnpike

CARBON COUNTY, Pa. -- State police in Carbon County have charged a prominent attorney from Shavertown with several offenses for a deadly crash that happened here on the turnpike in November 2018.

Police accuse 69-year-old Joseph Persico of being drunk when he crashed into the vehicle driven by 50-year-old Paul Gerrity of Scranton.

He's charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.

Gerrity's neighbors had been wondering for months when Persico would be held responsible.

“It was a very long time, I don't even remember when the date of loss was,” said Jennifer Kelleher. “I understand that everything takes time. We all know that, but it did seem like it was longer than expected.”

The crash happened at Exit 74, the Mahoning Valley exit just before midnight, and police say Persico was driving the wrong way, going south in the northbound lanes.

Police said Persico had a blood alcohol level of .22, and a partially full bottle of vodka was found in a brown bag on the passenger floor of his car.

Gerrity died at the scene.

Eric Myers was Gerrity's next-door neighbor.

“It was a shock to the system,” said Myers. “You hear about those types of things happening in other places, but that's awful close to home. His house is right here, you can see it.”

The turnpike says Gerrity worked there as a toll taker and was stationed at the Exit 31 booth, the Landsdale exit.

He had been driving home from his job when the crash occurred with Persico some forty miles north.

Gerrity's neighbors say if Persico was intoxicated as police say, this is just one more tragic example as to why people need to be more responsible behind the wheel.

“We shouldn't drink and drive, it shouldn't happen,” said Kelleher. “Nobody should do it, but they do it and especially, not just the alcohol involved but going the wrong way, you know? On the turnpike?”

Joseph Persico was released on unsecured bail.

His next court appearance is later this month.

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