Belchertown man denies killing William Wanczyk in hit-and-run case; held on $100,000 bail 

  • Peter Sheremeta, 20, of Belchertown, pleaded not guiltyTuesday on charges related to the Nov. 6, 2016, accident that killed William E. Wanczyk, 55, at this bus stop in Amherst. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Thursday, June 01, 2017

BELCHERTOWN — A 20-year-old Belchertown man is being held on $100,000 cash bail at the Hampshire County Jail after he denied charges that he struck and killed a Northampton man with his vehicle at an Amherst bus shelter in November.

Peter Sheremeta pleaded not guilty Tuesday at his arraignment in Eastern Hampshire District Court on charges related to the Nov. 6 accident that killed William E. Wanczyk, 55. Sheremeta’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 28.

Sheremeta denied charges of motor vehicle homicide, manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, leaving the scene of a crash resulting in property damage, operating to endanger, operating with a suspended driver’s license and use without authority.

Sheremeta allegedly was speeding in a pickup truck when he struck Wanczyk, who was waiting at a bus shelter in front of the post office at 141 North Pleasant St. in Amherst shortly after 9:30 p.m.

The vehicle did not stop after striking Wanczyk and was abandoned north of the crash site, according to the Northwestern district attorney’s office.

Wanczyk, who lived at the Cahill Apartments at 35 Fruit St. in Northampton, was pronounced dead shortly after the crash. He was a former Northampton special police officer and for a brief time worked for the Northampton Fire Department.

The six-month wait for charges has been difficult for Wanczyk’s family, said Stephen Ferrarone, an Amherst attorney representing Wanczyk’s son, William E. Wanczyk Jr., of Holyoke, and daughter, Marlee Wanczyk, of Northampton. Ferrarone said they may file a wrongful death lawsuit, depending on the outcome of the criminal case.

“I’m relieved and the family is relieved that we’ve gotten this far,” Ferrarone said outside the courtroom.

Ferrarone praised both the Amherst Police and the district attorney’s office for their work.

“The investigation had to be done very carefully,” Ferrarone said. “We have no complaints whatsoever.”

Additional details about the case are sealed after Assistant District Attorney Jayme Parent asked Judge Thomas Estes that the entire file be impounded until June 13, for a potential presentation to a grand jury and “given our plans for the case.”

Attorney Jonah Goldsmith, the public defender assigned to represent Sheremeta, had no objections to the file being impounded. “We’ve been provided information necessary to begin working on the case,” Goldsmith said.

Estes granted the motion even though he described it as “somewhat extraordinary.”

Sheremeta is a 2016 graduate of Belchertown High School.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.