The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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May 29, 2010

Sheriff’s deputy seriously injured in motorcycle crash

CONNEAUT —  

 A veteran Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department deputy remains hospitalized with serious injuries suffered in a motorcycle-vehicle crash Thursday night in Conneaut, according to reports.

Deputy Joe DeFazio, 66, and his wife, Kathryn, 55, both of Kingsville, were injured when the motorcycle they were riding was struck by another vehicle at Lake Road and Mill Street, said Conneaut Police Lt. Robert Zimmerman. 

Police and other sources said DeFazio was flown by helicopter to Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pa., but a spokeswoman there said he was not a patient. Kathryn DeFazio’s injuries were not as severe, police said.

DeFazio’s co-workers are devastated by the news, Sheriff William Johnson said Friday. 

“It’s like a morgue around here,” he said. “We’re all praying for him.”

The crash occurred around 7:30 p.m., police said. The motorcycle, driven by DeFazio, was westbound on Lake Road when it was struck by a north-facing vehicle on Mill Street, attempting a turn onto Lake Road, Zimmerman said.

“(The vehicle) had stopped but did not yield the right of way (to the motorcycle),” he said, citing preliminary information gathered by officers.

DeFazio reportedly suffered head injuries in the crash. Early reports indicate he was not wearing a helmet, police said. The investigation is still under way, Zimmerman said.

Police could not immediately identify the other driver, reportedly a Concord Township woman. No citations or charges had been received at Conneaut Municipal Court by late Friday afternoon, a court spokeswoman said.

A former road deputy, DeFazio, who has worked 27 years for the department, currently is assigned to the civil division, Johnson said.

“Joe does all our civil processing, sheriff sales and serves subpoenas,” he said.

DeFazio is a dependable, dedicated employee respected by all, the sheriff said. Many department employees went to the hospital Wednesday night to offer help and comfort to DeFazio’s family.

“He’s worth three people to me,” Johnson said. “He’s well-liked by everybody. He would give you the shirt off his back.”

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