(COLUMBUS) – The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department is mourning the death of their police dog Diesel.
He was found dead along I-65 Saturday afternoon. Diesel was involved in a foot pursuit of a man accused of domestic battery at the time of his death.
According to authorities, deputies were called at 4:30 p.m. Saturday to a domestic battery incident.
The suspect, 36-year-old Michael Stephens, of Columbus, fled the scene when police arrived. Police found Stephens near County Roads 600 South and 650 West and after a short vehicle pursuit, he ran away.
Diesel was released to apprehend Stephens while deputies stayed behind to handle two other people who were in the vehicle.
Diesel chased Stephens into the woods near the interstate. A short time later, Diesel was found dead by the highway and Stephens was found hiding in a ditch.
The cause of Diesel’s death has not yet been determined.
The woman Stephens is accused of hurting was taken to a local hospital for treatment of her injuries.
“There is nothing that we can say to ease anyone’s pain — we are all mourning the loss of Diesel,” the department said in a statement. “Diesel’s work has been responsible for countless arrests in our community as well as the constant uplifting or our morale while working on station. We will miss him.”
Stephens was arrested on outstanding warrants of domestic battery. He is also facing charges of cruelty to a law enforcement animal, resisting law enforcement, domestic battery, intimidation, and strangulation.
The Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s help.
The department is asking anyone who was traveling in the area of I-65 near mile marker 62 between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturday and who may have seen something to call Lt. Chad Swank at 812-379-1650.
The department will hold a memorial service for K-9 Diesel. Those details have not been released.