Deputy who returned from injury honors late New Kensington officer Brian Shaw
Carlos Jativa, an Allegheny County sheriff’s deputy who recently returned to work after being critically injured in a fall in Pittsburgh’s East Hills a year ago while searching for a fugitive, admitted to those gathered Sunday at the annual Blue Mass at Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica he had many stories about his service and long rehabilitation, but said he was there to honor someone else who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“I graduated from the Allegheny County Police Training Academy in 2014 with New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw, who was killed in the line of duty Nov. 17, 2017. I wanted to tell Brian that his service will not go unnoticed,” an emotional Jativa said at the basilica in Unity.
“I can never say ‘thank you’ to Brian enough for his bravery, commitment to the community and his dedication and sacrifice,” Jativa said.
Jativa told the roughly 30 first responders who joined more than 200 parishioners attending the special ceremony that he wanted to thank each of them for their service, too, “and that it does not go unnoticed.”
Jativa, a native of Quito, Ecuador, was keynote speaker at the ceremony. He said he moved to New York with his family when he was 5 years old. After completing high school in New York, he joined the Marines in 2006 at age 17.
As an infantryman during his second deployment to Iraq while on patrol in 2009, the vehicle he was riding in struck something in the roadway and the Marines inside, including Jativa, fell about 50 feet from an overpass. He was honorably discharged due to his injuries in March 2012.
Jativa said he moved to Pittsburgh and graduated from Community College of Allegheny County. He then enrolled in the police academy, graduating in December 2014. He worked part time in Ohio and Hampton townships before joining the sheriff’s department last year.
Jativa, who married his wife, Natasha, in June 2017, sustained a serious head injury on the job the next month while assisting other detectives in a search. While on top of a 15-foot-tall retaining wall, a piece of the wall gave way, and he fell, he said.
He was hospitalized for four days, initially in critical condition, and spent 10 months recovering before returning to work at the end of June.
“I wanted to continue my career of serving Allegheny County and its citizens,” he said.
Jativa noted like many first-responders, he couldn’t have succeeded or recovered without his wife and family members’ support.
Archabbot and Chancellor of St. Vincent Douglas Nowicki O.S.B. said the Blue Mass was first celebrated in 1934 in Washington, D.C. Since then, he said, the Blue Mass has become a tradition to acknowledge police officers, firefighters, emergency medical service personnel and their families.
“Know that in times of darkness, you are our light,” Nowicki said.
During the Mass, a bell was rung in the basilica in memory of those who recently died in the line of service including Shaw; Trooper Michael P. Stewart III of Latrobe on July 14, 2017; state corrections officer Sgt. Mark J Baserman at SCI-Somerset on Feb. 26; New Castle Police Det. Sgt. Scott Cuscino on April 19 and Rostraver Township firefighter Michael Gozdak, who died in the line of duty on April 29. Also honored was late Greensburg Fire Chief Ed Hutchinson, who died April 15, at the age of 96, after serving as the city’s fire chief for 63 years.
In addition to being celebrant, Father Joseph Adams, O.S.B., director of public safety at Saint Vincent College, performed the blessing of the emergency apparatus after the service.