LIGONIER TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – Hundreds of mourners, many of them in uniform, spilled into the streets of Ligonier Township Thursday evening, wanting to pay their respects to the fallen police lieutenant who was killed in a wrong way crash.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the services for Lt. Eric Eslary this week.
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On Thursday, a steady stream of friends, family and officers filed into the funeral home to pay their respects.
“He was just a wonderful, loving, caring friend, officer, parent, neighbor. Just the most spectacular man,” said Judy Ebbets, a family friend.
Many of the mourners waited over an hour to get inside the packed funeral home.
“The police department, the fire department, we’re all brothers, no matter which way you look at them,” said Robert Gettemy, of the Unity Township Volunteer Fire Department. “We stand behind one another whether it’s something like this or out at the scene of an accident or fire. It doesn’t matter.”
Eslary was killed when a van, which was traveling the wrong way on Route 30, slammed head-on into his police vehicle.
His K-9 partner, Blek, suffered severe injuries, but is recovering.
Meanwhile, Ligonier is wearing it’s mourning colors – black for the loss of Lt. Eslary and blue for the loss of a law enforcement officer.
“Mary Beth [Eslary’s widow] is just a wonderful, very strong woman,” said Ebbets. “It is going to be a very long road. It is not at all easy.”
Visitation was held this afternoon and evening and will be held again tomorrow at the McCracken Funeral Chapel.
Lt. Eslary will be laid to rest Saturday after a funeral Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Ligonier.