Couple charged; child OK
WILBURTON - Kerry Klemick held his 9-month-old grandson in his arms early Wednesday afternoon at his home at 222 Second St., Wilburton, telling the child over and over that he was safe and God had taken care of him.
Less than an hour earlier, the boy was with his mother and her boyfriend, David A. Pavloski II, who police say stole a vehicle in Coal Township and evaded police for nearly nine hours.
"I'm feeling good that my grandson is rescued," said Kerry, 57, just moments after the infant, Cole Stanton, was returned safely to him. "I was ready to take justice into my own hands, but I'm glad I didn't, under advice from police."
It was a happy ending for the boy, but Courtney Klemick, 21, and Pavloski, 22, both of Wilburton, are behind bars at Northumberland County Prison on multiple charges relating to the theft of the vehicle; charges related to their alleged evasion of police are pending.
And this isn't the first time the young couple has been in trouble with the law.
Phone call at 2:30 a.m.
Kerry said he first learned something was wrong at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday when a friend of Courtney's from Coal Township called him while he was at work and said Courtney and Pavloski, who have been dating for three months, were at the friend's house looking "mangled." Apparently, Kerry said, they were drunk and Courtney had bruises on her face and a black eye.
Kerry only knew the friend's first name, Jessie. Police said later the address of the owner of the vehicle is 1125 W. Gowen St., Coal Township, but they did not provide a name Wednesday. Theresa Powell is listed at the address in the phone book, and whitepages.com lists Powell as well as Christopher Powell and Jessica Long.
The friend told Kerry the couple allegedly stole the friend's maroon 2003 Buick Rendezvous. The friend called police, who, according to Mount Carmel Township Police Chief Brian Hollenbush, spotted the vehicle several times driving between Coal Township and Wilburton.
The police avoided approaching the vehicle aggressively because the child was in the SUV. Police did not activate their emergency lights, Hollenbush said.
Hollenbush noted the driver of the Rendezvous, at one point, ran a red light on Route 901.
The search was called off early Wednesday morning.
Spotted at home
After he arrived home from work at about 4:30 a.m., Kerry said he camped out at the window in his Wilburton home and watched 10 Front St., where Pavloski lives, just a short distance away.
At approximately 9 a.m., Kerry said he saw Pavloski exit his house, walk down a dirt path into the woods and drive the Rendezvous - which had apparently been hidden from view - into an alley. He then went back in the residence, Kerry said.
Kerry said he immediately called police and attempted to block the alley with his vehicle, but his daughter and Pavloski, with the baby, ran out of the house, got inside the vehicle and drove away the opposite direction "into the bush," Kerry said.
Between 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., a search was conducted by police from Mount Carmel Township, Mount Carmel Borough and Kulpmont police, along with state constables and a state police helicopter from Harrisburg.
At approximately 10:45 a.m., another friend of Courtney told Kerry the car was ditched somewhere in the woods and the couple and baby were back inside 10 Front St.
Police located the abandoned vehicle along a rocky mountain path behind Tiffany Lane. Mount Carmel Borough Chief Todd Owens, borough Cpl. Christopher Buhay and Constable Larry Rompallo searched the vehicle, and Owens drove it out of the forest.
Shortly after, at approximately 11:15 a.m., Kerry said he watched the officers surround Pavloski's house.
Hollenbush said they knocked four times. When there was no answer, police forcibly entered the home, the chief said, kicking in a door.
Kerry said the last thing he uttered to himself before police entered was: "My grandson, please. My grandson, please."
'It was a miracle'
Hollenbush said Courtney and Pavloski were found in a bedroom on the second floor of the house with the baby in a playpen in the same room. They were taken into custody without further incident.
Pavloski lives at the house with his father, who is wheelchair-bound, a sister and the sister's boyfriend. No charges will be filed against Pavloski's family members, Hollenbush said.
After Pavloski and Courtney were taken into custody and placed in the back of police cruisers, Hollenbush said Kerry was escorted into the house to retrieve his grandson.
"It was a miracle," Kerry said. "The police are heroes and a 9-month-old boy is unharmed. They (his daughter and Pavloski) were evading police. Anything could have happened."
Pray, father asks
He was asking anyone he talked to Wednesday to pray.
"I know my daughter is going to jail, but the Lord answers prayers," he said, noting the safety of his grandchild.
He also commended Hollenbush and the officers who were involved in the search.
A case worker from Columbia County Children and Youth Services was expected to visit Kerry, who lives at his house with his son and another daughter. However, Kerry said the boy's father, Thomas Stanton, of Shenandoah, was expected to take the child with him Wednesday night.
Conyngham Township Patrolman William Spickler remained with Kerry in his home until CYS arrived.
Pair in prison
Courtney and Pavloski were video-arraigned by Magistrate Judge John Gembic III at approximately 1:30 p.m. from the Coal Township Police Station on charges of a felony count each of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property and a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.
Bail was set at $20,000 cash each. After failing to post bail, they were transported to Northumberland County Prison, where they remained as of late Wednesday afternoon.
The charges were filed by Coal Township Patrolman Edward Purcell.
Hollenbush said additional charges will be filed at a later date by Mount Carmel Borough Patrolman Dan Politza. Those charges will likely include criminal conspiracy, receiving stolen property, fleeing or attempting to flee police, resisting arrest, recklessly endangering another person, recklessly endangering the welfare of a child and reckless driving. Pavloski will likely also be charged with driving under suspension due to previous DUI charges, he said.
Mount Carmel Township Patrolman Kelly Campbell, Kulpmont Patrolman Michael Pitcavage, Coal Township Patrolman Michael Hashuga, Constable Patrick Reynolds and Locust Township Police Chief Allen Breach were also involved in the search.
State police at Bloomsburg were unavailable to provide assistance and Conyngham Police Department had no officers on duty at the start of the incident, which is why Hollensbush was in charge, he said.Harry Deitz/For The News-Item