Services set for 'Fearless' Harford deputy killed in crash early Thursday near Darlington

Sheriff Jesse Bane speaks about the death of Corporal Charles Licato, whom he called "fearless." Cpl. Licato was killed in a single-car crash Thursday monring near Darlington.
Sheriff Jesse Bane speaks about the death of Corporal Charles Licato, whom he called "fearless." Cpl. Licato was killed in a single-car crash Thursday monring near Darlington. (Nicole Munchel | Aegis staff, Patuxent Homestead)

Arrangements have been set for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for the on-duty Harford County Sheriff's deputy killed in a single vehicle accident near Darlington early Thursday morning.

Visitation for Cpl. Charles B. Licato, 34, a 14-year veteran of the sheriff's office who was assigned to the Apprehension Unit of the Services and Support Bureau, will be from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at McComas Funeral Home in Abingdon. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Mountain Christian Church at 1824 Mountain Road in Joppa. Interment will follow at Bel Air Memorial Gardens at 809 Rock Spring Road in Bel Air.


"We lost a member of our family," Sheriff Jesse Bane said Thursday afternoon. "Harford County lost a very dedicated, devoted person."

Bane said Cpl. Licato was a "very caring, concerned person" with a distinguished service record who can't be replaced. "He was very effective in his job. He was one of a kind and we'll never be able to fill his shoes," he said.


Cpl. Licato was on his way home to Cecil County when he crashed, Monica Worrell, the sheriff's office spokesperson, said.

A citizen traveling in the area saw something on the side of the road and stopped to investigate and found the crash scene. The person used Cpl. Licato's radio to report the accident, Bane said.

"We received a call from a citizen at approximately 2:30 a.m. about a single vehicle accident in the 4700 block of Conowingo Road, Route 1," Monica Worrell, spokesperson for the sheriff's office, said.

Cpl. Licato was driving north in his unmarked police car, a 2010 Chevy Impala, when he crossed the center line into the southbound lanes. The car continued north and traveled off the southbound side of the road, hitting a steel pole on the front driver's side then two large trees, according to Worrell.

Cpl. Licato was declared dead at the scene by paramedics from Darlington Volunteer Fire Company,

A cause of the accident had not been determined Thursday afternoon, though Cpl. Licato is listed as the at-fault driver and failure to keep right of center is listed as a contributing circumstance on the accident report.

Worrell said Cpl. Licato was not using any electronic equipment while he was driving; he did not have his cell phone and his in-vehicle computer was not turned on, she said.

A cause of death will be determined by the Office of the State Medical Examiner.

Route 1 in Darlington was closed from Shuresville Road to Castleton Road while police investigated the accident.

Police work in the family

Cpl. Licato comes from a family of police officers. His father, Donald Licato, retired from the Baltimore City Police Department, where he was a homicide detective, then went to work for Aberdeen Police Department, from where he retired last month. Mr. Licato's brother, Don Licato, has been a sheriff's deputy for three years.

"This is a double-whammy for the agency," Bane said. "Not only are we dealing with the death of one of our own, but we have a family member who works for us who's also affected."


Bane offered his support to Cpl. Licato's family.

"To his parents, they're not supposed to bury their children, this is very difficult for them," he said. "Our prayers go to them and we will support them in any way we can."

Cpl. Licato's brother, Don, who works patrol based at the Southern Precinct, will face a difficult time, having to come to the place where his brother worked. Bane said he told his colleagues to help him if he needs help, but to also give him space if he needs it.

Bane recalled Cpl. Licato often asking him to ride along with him when he was on patrol, which he did on several occasions. Bane said he knew his area well and knew the people in his patrol sector, and he wanted to make sure when the sheriff did ride along with him, the sheriff had enough star lapel pins to hand out to the children.

"He was a very caring, very concerned person, but when he went to work, he was all business," Bane said.

Cpl. Licato worked in one of the more dangerous positions in the sheriff's office, serving warrants to violent criminals.

"That speaks to his dedication, that speaks to his character. Charlie was a fearless person," Bane said. "You have to admire him, someone like that, who's willing to put their life on the line to protect our citizens."

Cpl. Licato went to work for the sheriff's office in October 1998 at the Harford County Detention Center. He became a deputy in 1999 and was promoted to corporal in 2008.

Cpl. Licato's character is not much different than that of his fellow deputies, Bane said, and that was evident throughout the day Thursday as they came to each other's aid.

"They were very professional in dealing with a stressful situation because they knew Charlie very well," Bane said.

A deputy has been at Cpl. Licato's side since immediately after the crash. The first deputy on the scene stayed with him throughout the investigation, until his body was removed from the car. His body was also accompanied by a deputy to the medical examiner's office, where the deputy remained.

"We want Charlie to know... we never left his side," Bane said.

They've also taken care of Cpl. Licato's "family." Cpl. Licato was not married and didn't have children, but he did have a dog, Bane said.

"Anyone who has a dog knows how it can be part of the family," he said. "We've taken care of Charlie's dog."

His deputies, the sheriff said, are banding together to get through a tragedy, and he'd seen many hugs among colleagues since the accident happened.

"They are doing what any family would do. They are bonding together, helping each other through the process," he said. "It is a death and we'll have to go through all the stages of the grieving process."

Looking out for his deputies

Personally, the death of a fellow officer is one of the most difficult days.

"You hope in your career you don't come across something like this," Bane said.

His main concern, he said, is his deputies, and making sure they get the help they may need to deal with a colleague's death.

Throughout Thursday, he'd been meeting with them in small groups just to make sure they're doing OK.

The Critical Incident Stress Management team has been working with deputies as well, and helping them when necessary. Incidents such as Thursday's fatal accident can have long-term effects, and putting a deputy back on the street too soon could be a dangerous situation.

"I told the recruits this morning, odds are you're not going to get through without getting injured. But I hope and pray it's such that it's not a final act," Bane said, adding he hopes they won't have to experience something like this again, though it's not likely. "We've become a violent society, and we do a dangerous job. I hope it's the last death I have to deal with."

Honoring a colleague

Black bunting will adorn the three Harford County Sheriff's Office buildings in Bel Air, Edgewood and Jarrettsville as well as patrol cars that will sit in front of the northern and southern precincts.


Harford County Executive David Craig has ordered that all Harford County flags be flown at half-staff in honor of Cpl. Licato until sunset the day of his funeral.


"I am deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely loss of Cpl. Charles Licato of the Harford County Sheriff's Office. Cpl. Licato served the citizens of Harford County and the State of Maryland with pride, integrity and distinction for [14] years as a proud member of the Harford County Sheriff's Office," Craig said in a statement. "My wife Melinda and I extend our condolences to Cpl. Licato's family, friends and co-workers. Harford County lost one of our finest today and we share in mourning the loss of Cpl. Licato with our law enforcement, first responders and public safety community. Cpl. Licato will be sorely missed."

Funeral arrangements had not been finalized, but will be posted on the sheriff's office website, http://www.harfordsheriff.org, once they are confirmed with family members.

In the line of duty

Cpl. Licato is just the third member of the sheriff's office to be killed in the line of duty in the history of the agency, which dates to 1774.

In November 2006, Deputy First Class William Beebe Jr. was killed when his police cruiser crashed in Abingdon while DFC Beebe was responding to aid other deputies at a suicide call. Subsequent investigation determined DFC Beebe had suffered a fatal heart attack prior to the crash.

The only other death in the line of duty occurred in June 1899 when Deputy Frank Bachman, the son of a former sheriff, died in a shootout in Bel Air with a man he was trying to serve with a warrant for drunk and disorderly contact.

The sheriff's office is Harford's principal law enforcement agency.

Check back with http://www.exploreharford.com for updates.

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