Vincentian Father Vincent J. O’Malley had just preached on Sunday’s Gospel reading, warning that no one knows the hour when the Son of Man will come. Moments later, as the priest greeted people outside St. Joseph in Emmitsburg following the 10:15 a.m. liturgy, an automobile struck and killed two Mass-goers and seriously injured a third.
Patricia Mauro-Cillo, 64, was pronounced dead on the street and her husband, John Cillo, 53, died later Aug. 8 on his way to the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Marian Derosa, Mauro-Cillo’s 89-year-old mother, was also rushed to Shock Trauma where she continues to be treated.
Corporal Jennifer Bailey, a spokeswoman for the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, said the three victims were hit by a sports utility vehicle driven by 63-year-old Mary G. Camilleri – a greeter at the noon Mass who was attempting to parallel park when she suddenly accelerated in reverse.
Camilleri’s vehicle rammed into another sports utility vehicle, pushing it onto the sidewalk of North Seton Avenue. Her car continued in reverse, striking the pedestrians as they were attempting to cross the road. It came to a stop after hitting a parked car.
Bailey said the reason for the unexpected acceleration is not known. It has not been determined if charges will be filed against Camilleri, Bailey said. As part of the investigation, autopsies were to be conducted in Baltimore.
“I shook the man’s hand and waved to his wife,” Father O’Malley remembered. “A minute later, I heard this loud crash and people started screaming.”
Still wearing his vestments, the pastor rushed to the victims and prayed over them. Cindy Ott, a parish nurse, used a defibrillator kept in the church to try to revive John Cillo before emergency personnel arrived, Father O’Malley said.
The Cillos were not parishioners, but sometimes attended Mass at St. Joseph. John Cillo was a daily communicant at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg.
“They were very faith-filled people,” Father O’Malley said. “The readings that day talked about being vigilant. If anyone was ready to meet the Lord, it was these two people.”
Father O’Malley said Camilleri was devastated by the accident. The priest consoled her for two hours following the incident.
“She just cried for the first half hour,” said Father O’Malley, describing the St. Joseph parishioner as a “lovely” person. “I hugged her and told her it was an accident that could have happened to anyone of us.”
Following the accident, parishioners prayed in the church for everyone involved. People have been dropping flowers at the scene for several days. Funeral arrangements had not been finalized as The Catholic Review went to press.
“This is a small town,” Father O’Malley said. “Everyone knows everyone. It’s been difficult on everyone.”