PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As fellow officers were escorting the body of the fallen Ligonier Township police lieutenant to Carlow University on Tuesday for an autopsy, they hit a bit of a snag.
The motorcade wanted to travel the Pennsylvania Turnpike to get there, but had to change course.
The intended route of the procession carrying the fallen Lt. Eric Eslary would have been the Turnpike, but instead, hit a bureaucratic roadblock.
Frustrated with the Turnpike’s set of procedures and needed approvals, the procession organizers decided to scrap the idea and take Route 30 instead.
Today in statement, the Turnpike Chairman Sean Logan apologized to Eslary’s family and colleagues:
“We deeply regret that any action by the Pa. Turnpike Commission made yesterday’s events any more difficult for those involved. Large-procession travel on the P. Turnpike system requires a set of procedures to ensure the safety of our customers and of our employees. We were following those procedures yesterday; admittedly, we may have lost sight of the urgency this situation demanded, and I sincerely apologize for that.”
Generally, plans for a procession for a funeral or a presidential motorcade are made days in advance and require approvals by Turnpike executives.
The Turnpike also needs to close a lane and be in communication with a lead driver by cell phone.
But the delay in establishing all of that caused the organizers to take the other route, and this garnered the Turnpike some criticism from state Sen. Kim Ward.
“The present process obviously didn’t meet the immediate needs of a fallen officer and his brothers and sisters who were escorting him, and that isn’t acceptable,” she said in a statement. “I’m going to work with the commission to simplify the process so this doesn’t happen again.”
In offering condolences and sympathies to Lt. Eslary’s families and colleagues, the Turnpike says it never envisioned the need to expedite these procedures, but will do so in the future.