Powerball winner’s ex-husband was killed in 2016 Amherst hit-and-run

  • Mavis Wanczyk, of Chicopee, stands by a poster of her winnings during a news conference where she claimed the $758.7 million Powerball prize at Massachusetts State Lottery headquarters, Thursday. AP Photo

  • In an undated photo, William “Bill” Wanczyk poses with a birthday cake. Wanczyk, 55, was struck and killed while waiting for a bus in Amherst in November 2016. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Thursday, August 31, 2017

BOSTON (AP) — A former Northampton firefighter who died last year in a hit-and-run accident in Amherst was the ex-husband of the woman who this week won the $758.7 million Powerball prize.

Powerball winner Mavis Wanczyk, of Chicopee, and William Wanczyk, of Northampton, divorced in 2012, according to court records obtained by Masslive.com.

William Wanczyk, 55, was a Northampton firefighter from 1986 to 1989 before being injured on the job. He was killed in November while he was waiting at a bus shelter in front of the post office on North Pleasant Street. Authorities say a truck without its headlights on was seen speeding before it started to fishtail, drove onto the sidewalk and struck the bus shelter. The heavily damaged truck was found abandoned nearby.

Peter Sheremeta, 20, of Belchertown, has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter, motor vehicle homicide, drunken driving and other charges.

On the Facebook page for the couple’s daughter, Marlee Wanczyk of Northampton, one person offered congratulations on the Powerball win and wrote, “Your dad is watching over you.”

Mavis Wanczyk, 53, had worked for 32 years in a clerical job for the nursing department at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield. She quit her job on Thursday after learning she had won the prize, the biggest lottery jackpot ever won with a single ticket in U.S. history. Lottery officials say she chose to take a lump sum payment of $480 million, or $336 million after taxes.

Meanwhile, Police are providing extra patrols around the home of Wanczyk.

“This is a great thing,” Officer Michael Wilk, a spokesman for Chicopee police, said Friday. “We want her to know we’re there if she needs us.”

Wilk said officers are keeping an extra eye out, and have even parked in her driveway, as members of the media and others have descended on the neighborhood. Officers have spoken to neighbors to tell them that if they see anything suspicious, they should call the police, he said.

While reporters have been respectful, Wilk said there have been reports from neighbors that others have been hanging around, looking for Wanczyk.

“Besides media, there have been people knocking on doors, asking people where she lives. We’re not going to tolerate her being harassed or bothered,” he said.

Wilk said they were told by a neighbor that she is not around.

Wanczyk has an adult daughter and son, and was accompanied Aug. 24 to claim her winnings by other family members.