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Officer's widow files wrongful death suit against motorist, his former employer, club in crash


GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania — The widow of a western Pennsylvania police officer killed in a wrong-way crash has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the accident.

Mary Beth Eslary has sued Clair Fink III, 32, of Ligonier, the driver charged with third-degree murder and other crimes for allegedly driving drunk in the wrong direction and causing the crash on May 5, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (http://bit.ly/1KSG09e ) reported. Her husband, Ligonier Township police Lt. Eric Eslary, 40, was killed instantly.

She's also suing Fink's former employer, Westmoreland Poos and Spas Inc., of North Huntingdon, and the Beehive Show Bard Inc., in Salem Township. That's because Fink's co-worker has told police that both men drank beer, and that Fink was visibly intoxicated when he left the strip bar, in the hours before the crash on U.S. Route 30.

Fink is jailed and doesn't have a defense attorney in the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Westmoreland County.

Attorneys for the pool company and strip club say they're wrongly being sued.

"The company feels very badly for the Eslary and Fink families, and for all those who have been affected by this terrible accident," Westmoreland Pools attorney Brian Kane said. "The complaint is riddled with inaccurate factual and legal statements against Westmoreland Pools which will have to be resolved in the litigation process."

Miles Kirshner, the attorney for the strip club, contests the lawsuit's claim that the business allowed "intoxicated patrons to leave their premises."

The Beehive doesn't agree it's liable for Eslary's death, and Kirshner said, "Our client should not be involved."

Fink waived his right to a preliminary hearing last week and remains jailed awaiting trial on the murder charge and counts including homicide by vehicle while driving drunk. Assistant public defender John Sweeney said he represents Fink only in the criminal case and can't comment on the lawsuit.

Police contend Fink drank seven to nine 16-ounce beers from an 18-pack he split with a co-worker after they clocked out of their job at a swimming pool installation business around 7 p.m. on May 4. Fink was driving a work van home more than 20 miles away, drinking and stopping at the strip club with his co-worker, before unwittingly driving east in the westbound lanes of the divided highway for about four miles and smashing head-on into Eslary's patrol SUV at about 2 a.m.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, http://pghtrib.com

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