On May 5, tragedy struck the small town of Ligonier, Pennsylvania when Lt. Eric Eslary, a Ligonier Township Police Department officer, was killed in a wrong-way collision. Officer Eslary’s K-9 partner, Blek, was in the car with him when the accident occurred. When first responders arrived on the scene, Blek guarded his partner and wouldn’t leave his side until Eslary’s wife, Mary Beth, arrived and coaxed him away. Blek sustained significant injuries and was taken to a nearby veterinary hospital for surgery.
Eric Eslary started the K-9 program in Ligionier, says photographer Christy Boyd, and Mary Beth still runs the Ligonier Township Police K-9 Unit Facebook Page. The Eslarys had been married for three years, and together for eight. “They have the perfect combined family,” Christy told me. She wanted to help honor the memory of Officer Eslary, and offered to photograph Mary Beth and Blek for a tribute.
“We are a very small community, so I expected for Mary Beth to receive a lot of support locally. I never thought it would go viral,” Christy said, noting that since posting the photographs to her company Facebook page, Memories by Christy, they have been viewed over 6.2 million times and have been shared over 37,000 times. “Mary Beth knows that she has support from literally all over the world, which is comforting.”
Blek is recovering at home with Mary Beth, and doing well. He hasn’t retired yet, says Christy, but he’s not back on active duty because he still has some healing to do. From the looks of the photos, it looks like he and Mary Beth are doing a great job at helping each other to heal.
Please feel free to comment on this story below; Christy plans to share all the stories using her photos with Mary Beth. “It really does help,” Christy said, “knowing how much people care.”