Award-Winning Writer Tom Junod Takes Viewers on Journey of Discovery
In June 2018, millions around the world watched in horror as video of a car driven onto a youth baseball field while children and adults scattered went viral on news and social media platforms.
The car struck and killed a man who was trying to protect the children. After he was initially hailed as a hero, it was later learned that the victim had himself been the perpetrator of another deadly hit-and-run 50 years earlier – one that killed a four-year-old girl.
In a special edition of E60, ESPN senior writer Tom Junod (9/11: The Falling Man; A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) takes viewers on a journey of discovery, connecting two tragedies that happened 50 years and 400 miles apart in Sanford, Me., and Fulton, N.Y. “The Hero of Goodall Park” debuts Tuesday, July 7, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN Player.
The project, two years in the making, is Junod’s first piece for E60 since the release of the 2019 film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood that was based on his Esquire magazine article on Fred Rogers. The film starred Tom Hanks as Rogers and Matthew Rhys as a writer based on Junod.
“This story is unlike anything E60 has ever done,” said Andy Tennant, E60 executive producer. “It’s a masterful piece of storytelling by Tom Junod – a story of heroism and guilt and the burden of memory and the need for justice and forgiveness and closure. And ultimately, it is a story of hope for one of the most basic human aspirations — peace.”
On June 1, 2018, a 68-year-old man, Douglas Parkhurst, was killed by the car driven by Carol Sharrow, a woman in the grip of a psychotic episode. Parkhurst was at the game at historic Goodall Park in Sanford, Me., to watch his grandson play.
At first, Parkhurst was celebrated and mourned as the hero of Goodall Park, but then came a revelation from another place and another time. Fifty years earlier, in the town of Fulton, N.Y., a four-year-old girl named Carolee Ashby was hit and killed by a car as she crossed the street on Halloween night. The driver didn’t stop and his identity remained hidden for 45 years. That driver was a young Douglas Parkhurst, who confessed in 2013 after the statute of limitations had expired.
The program includes:
- The first on-camera interview with Sharrow, the woman who drove the car onto the baseball field, now in a state mental health facility in Augusta, Me.
- The first on-camera interviews with the son and grandson of Douglas Parkhurst.
- The first airing of police video showing Parkhurst’s confession.
- On-camera interview with Darlene Ashby McCann, who was holding her little sister Carolee’s hand when she was struck and killed in 1968.
- The first meeting between members of the Parkhurst and Ashby families as they seek closure.
“The Hero of Goodall Park” was produced for E60 by Martin Khodabakhshian.
A deeply-reported written piece by Junod will be on ESPN.com Tuesday morning to accompany the E60 story, and Junod will be a guest on the ESPN Daily Podcast with Mina Kimes to discuss the story that day as well. He also will appear on SportsCenter in the “OTL on SC” segment in the noon ET edition.
E60 premiered on ESPN on October 16, 2007, as a prime time newsmagazine show and now airs monthly. Reporting has ranged on subjects from corruption at FIFA, to the toxicity of playing fields in Bhopal, to the plight of migrant workers in Qatar, to the safety of artificial soccer fields. E60 has reported from Kenya, Sudan, India, Dominican Republic, Morocco, Mexico, Senegal, Philippines, Netherlands, Haiti, Costa Rica, South Africa, Ukraine, Serbia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Panama, Liberia, Syria, Uganda, Brazil, and Russia.