An Illinois K-9 officer was killed early Sunday after a suspected drunk driver crashed into a parked police car on the shoulder of Interstate 90, local authorities said.
“Our K-9’s are such an integral part of the department,” Boone County Sheriff Chief Deputy Perry Gay told USA TODAY. “These dogs become part of the handler’s family at home in their personal life. Sometimes that part of it is overlooked.”
K-9 officer Loki had been with the department since September 2019, Gay said. The dog was sitting inside the car of Deputy Robert Rosenkranz while he conducted a traffic stop, according to a news release.
The suspected drunk driver crashed into Rosenkranz’s car, which then struck the rear of the vehicle he had stopped that had two people inside. The driver was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries; the passenger was uninjured.
Loki was transported to an emergency veterinary hospital where he later died of his injuries. Rosenkranz suffered minor injuries from flying debris, authorities said.
Gay said the department plans to honor Loki with a funeral in the coming weeks.
“It’s with a heavy heart the Boone County Sheriff’s Office has to report that K-9 Loki was killed in the line of duty early this morning,” the department said in a Facebook post. “Rest in peace hero K9 Loki.”
Vincent Millare, 53, was cited for driving under the influence, operating an uninsured vehicle, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, improper lane usage, driving on the shoulder of the road and failing to slow down when approaching a parked authorized emergency vehicle. He was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injures.
The Illinois State Police is investigating the incident, authorities said.