K-9 Officer Blek Injured In Crash, Refuses To Leave Partner's Side

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
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A police officer's K-9 coworker refused to leave his side after he was involved in a fatal car crash.

Lt. Eric Eslary, 40, with the Ligonier Township in Pennsylvania was killed in a head-on collision with a van that was traveling on the wrong side of the road on the morning of May 5. His K-9 companion and coworker, a dog named Blek, survived the accident but he refused to leave Eslary’s side.

Eslary, a father of six, was working the midnight shift and was hit during the early morning on Tuesday, May 5. He later died at a hospital. He died of blunt force trauma to the head, chest and extremities, according to the Westmoreland County coroner's office.

“He loved to work at night with the dog,” township Supervisor Timothy Komar said Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

“He ate, slept and breathed for the K-9 program," he added. "He was our first K-9 officer, and his world revolved around the dogs and his family.”

Eslary’s wife is a 911 dispatcher and she reportedly had to coax Blek away from her husband’s body. 

"It's a loss for the entire community,” said township Police Chief Michael Matrunics, according to The Patriot-News.

Blek was later taken to a veterinary hospital for surgery. Blek's back legs were injured in the crash, and he also suffered from hemorrhaging in the abdomen. He recovered from his injuries and returned home.

The van’s driver, Clair Fink III, 31, was listed in serious condition and his passenger, Derek Gifford, 21, is reportedly in stable condition. Police have not filed charges against Clair, but said they are checking to see if alcohol or any other substances were involved in the crash.

“In this community, I never thought that the K-9 program would flourish the way it has. The only way that could have been done is because of Eric and his excitement for handling the dog, taking the dog home,” Matrunics said. “Eric was a friend on top of working for me. So it’s been kind of hitting home a little stronger than maybe an average investigation that I’ve been on many times in this township in the last 21 years.”

Sources: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Patriot-News

Photo Credit: WTAE