Man who died saving Little Leaguers hid his dark past for over 40 years

Douglas Parkhurst died saving children from a motorist who drove onto a baseball field, but he was hiding a dark past. (Getty)
Douglas Parkhurst died saving children from a motorist who drove onto a baseball field, but he was hiding a dark past. (Getty)

Douglas Parkhurst is being hailed as a hero for pushing children out of the way of a vehicle that had driven onto a baseball field in Sanford, Maine, on Friday. Parkhurst was struck by the driver, and later died from his injuries.

Parkhurst’s selfless act cost him his life and saved the lives of others, but local news outlets later revealed the 68-year-old had a dark past. Fifty years ago, Parkhurst was on the other side of the situation: he killed a young girl in a hit-and-run, and didn’t confess until 2013 when the statute of limitations ran out and he could no longer be prosecuted.

Parkhurst had a dark past

In 1968, when he was 18, Parkhurst was involved in a hit-and-run, but as the driver. The Portland Press Herald reported on the tragic story on Sunday. In Fulton, New York, Parkhurst struck and killed 4-year-old Carolee Ashby, who was walking to the store with her 15-year-old sister Darlene Ashby (now Darlene McCann) to pick up birthday candles for Darlene’s birthday.

The only reason we know Parkhurst was responsible for this crime is because he confessed … 44 years later. Once he obtained a written statement from prosecutors confirming that the statute of limitations had run out and he wouldn’t be prosecuted, he admitted to committing the crime. The confession reportedly included an admission that Parkhurst and his brother had been drinking.

Parkhurst’s 2013 confession came after a year of questioning and investigation by the police, but that was preceded by over 40 years of missed opportunities. Parkhurst was originally a suspect back in 1968, but it’s unknown why the investigation stopped there.

There were no clearcut answers to why police did not charge Parkhurst, who claimed at the time that a dent in his Buick Special resulted from a crash into a guardrail.

The documents showed police were skeptical of that explanation, but it was unclear why police did not continue to investigate Parkhurst.

In 1972, just a few years later, the police received a tip that Parkhurst had been bragging at a party about hitting Carolee with his car and getting away with it. It’s also unclear why no one followed up on that tip. Even when the case was reopened in 2000, nothing happened. Finally, in 2012, a Facebook comment led to a tip that broke open the case, and resulted in Parkhurst’s confession.

Parkhurst’s heroic act

Parkhurst died on Friday night after a car drove onto a Little League field, where his grandson was playing. The stands were full at the time, but the playing field was empty. After doing a loop around home plate, the car exited the field and drove onto the roadway that surrounds it. That’s where Parkhurst was, along with several children. Witnesses say Parkhurst pushed the children out of the way before being struck, and that he also tried to close the gate before the car could enter.

Sanford Police identified the driver as Carol Sharrow, 52. She was arrested and charged with manslaughter. The police also confirmed that Parkhurst had died of his injuries.

The tragedy comes full circle

The irony of Parkhurst’s death, that he would die in the same way that he killed Carolee, and by a woman with a similar name, isn’t lost on Darlene Ashby McCann.

“It feels it has made a full circle. 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,” McCann said.

Parkhurst left New York and moved to Maine after he confessed to the hit-and-run, and reportedly never apologized to McCann or her family for what he did. McCann’s mother died last year still waiting for Parkhurst to apologize for killing her daughter, and her father died years before Parkhurst confessed.

Even though there was no apology, McCann hopes that one day she can forgive Parkhurst for what he did.

“I know my mom would have been grateful that children were saved. Sometime I may be able to forgive him, but not right now,” McCann said.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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