Tragedy struck the Ligonier Township police department Tuesday morning when one of their officers was killed in a head-on collision with a work van traveling the wrong way on the road.
Police vehicles escorted the body of Lt. Eric Eslary from Westmoreland County to the Oakland neighborhood in Pittsburgh, where an autopsy will be performed at Carlow University.
A report by WTAE states the van, which police say belong to Westmoreland Pools and Spas in Irwin, crashed into Eslary’s patrol SUV close to 2 a.m. near Idlewild Park. Blek, Elsary’s K-9 partner, was taken to a Monroeville veterinary hospital.
The driver of the van, Clair Fink III, 31, and his unidentified passenger were taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, with Fink in critical condition. The crash is being investigated by state police.
According Trooper Steve Limani, there were no 911 calls received about the crash.
“He basically had no warning, no warning signs, did not have any idea or was not forewarned by 911 dispatch that there was a vehicle heading the wrong direction,” Limani said. “How they got onto the wrong side is obviously part of our investigation — where and how long they were traveling — so if anyone does have any information or did witness a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction on that particular stretch of roadway at that time, please contact the state police barracks in Greensburg.”
Limani added that a toxicology test will be performed on the van driver’s blood. Court records show Fink has been arrested on suspicion of DUI in 2006 and plead guilty to a summary charge of public drunkenness in 2011.
Eslary is survived by his six children and his wife, Mary Beth, who works as a 911 dispatcher. She was off duty when the crash occurred, but went to the scene upon hearing of the accident. Mary Beth played an important role in working with Blek, who did not want to leave Lt. Eslary.
The Ligonier Borough Police is saddened to learn of the passing of Lt. Eric Eslary of the Ligonier Township Police…
Posted by Ligonier Borough Police Department on Tuesday, May 5, 2015