LIGONIER (KDKA) – A Westmoreland County K-9 officer was officially retired from Ligonier Township police force Tuesday night.
Blek’s partner, Lieutenant Eric Eslary was killed in a crash with a driver who was going the wrong way in May.
Ligonier Township Police also permanently retired “Badge Number 4” that’s the one that belonged to Eslary.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Eslary’s widow Mary Beth Taylor-Eslary. “I know they’ll be no badge four in Ligonier anymore. It’s hard. We miss him very much.”
Eslary was killed when his police SUV was hit by a suspected drunk driver going the wrong way on Route 30.
According to search warrant paperwork, four first responders to the scene of the crash reported smelling a strong odor of alcohol on the breath of the suspect, Clair Fink III.
Last month, Fink was taken into custody and charged in the crash.
After the crash, Blek refused to leave his partner’s side and had to be coaxed from the wreckage.
Blek was hurt as well, suffering injuries to his legs, and internal injuries, the Chief says the right was move was for Blek to leave the force.
“I’m not sure we can expect Blek to be fully responsive to another handler, and it was the right thing to do,” Chief Michael Matrunics said.
In an emotional scene, the Chief handed both badges to Eslary’s widow.
Lt. Eslary was on the force for 17-years.
Mary Beth says their family is doing the best that they can.