Interstate 79 interchange renamed for fallen officer
MT. MORRIS – There was a sea of blue in Greene County Wednesday afternoon as law enforcement officers from across West Virginia joined with their brethren in Pennsylvania at the dedication of the Sgt. Michael Todd May Interchange at Mt. Morris.
May, a deputy with the Monongalia County, W.Va., sheriff’s department, was killed Feb. 18, 2012, just a short distance from where the dedication took place, when his police cruiser was hit by a pickup truck driven by Jerod Alan Green, 37, of Morgantown, W.Va. State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, who sponsored the legislation to have the interchange renamed, thanked May’s family for their “son’s dedication in keeping us safe in both Pennsylvania as well as West Virginia.”
Solobay said the Interstate 79 interchange will “from now, forever, for everyone to recognize” and honor May, saying it was the least Pennsylvania could do.
State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, like Solobay, offered condolences to May’s parents, Frank and Catherine and his brother, Frankie, sitting in the front row.
“Your son served the people of this area, this community, his entire adult life,” she said. “I thank each and every one of you here today. I can’t fathom a world without law enforcement. And, thank you, Marge Fox for bringing this to justice.”
Marjorie Fox, the district attorney for Greene County, tried the case.
Monongalia County, W.Va., Sheriff Kenneth “Al” Kinzer also thanked Fox and the officers who helped gather evidence for trial. Although two years and five months have passed since May’s death, Kinzer said the memories of their comrade have not diminished.
Kinzer said this case showed, “There are no boundaries; there are no jurisdictions. This is a brotherhood and sisterhood. The blue line, that day, got a little thinner.”
In fact, it was Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Steven Dowlin, who was credited with reaching out to Solobay to have the interchange named for May.
As Fox spoke to the crowd, she recapped the events that led up to May’s death in 2012, characterizing Green as “angry and intoxicated.” His blood-alcohol content was 0.189 percent. Green admitted to taking multiple prescription medications. And, his text messages, read in court, were increasingly bitter.
Fox said Green drove his pickup truck at the fastest speed it was capable of reaching coming onto the interstate and then headed directly for May’s cruiser.
West Virginia sheriff’s deputies pursued Green after he fled from a traffic stop following his involvement in a hit-and-run accident earlier that same evening on Easton Hill Road in Monongalia County, W.Va., where Green’s truck struck a car driven by Skylar Johnson, 19, of Morgantown.
When Green was pulled over by police, an officer reached inside Green’s truck to turn it off and Green pulled away with the officer’s arm still inside the window.
Police from multiple West Virginia departments joined in the pursuit of Green’s truck as it traveled north on Route 100, onto Route 19 north into Pennsylvania and then entered the Interstate 79 on ramp at Mt. Morris. It was just south of the Mt. Morris on ramp that Green’s vehicle impacted with May’s, ending May’s life.
Fox told those gathered to be thankful for these officers and the sacrifices made by them and their family members.
“Sgt. May gave his own life so we may be safe in our travels, safe in our homes. With all my heart I say, Thank you, Sgt. May. You will not be forgotten,” Fox said.
It took a Greene County jury less than two hours in December of 2012 to convict Green of third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle in an emergency response area, and fleeing or eluding a police officer while DUI and crossing a state line. He is serving a sentence of 25 to 50 years in SCI-Forest.
Green later pleaded guilty in West Virginia to related charges of third offense DUI, fleeing from an officer and causing bodily injury and fleeing an officer with reckless indifference. Green was sentenced on these charges in May to serve 5 to 18 years, consecutive to his Pennsylvania sentence.