A community in Missouri is mourning the death of a police officer and his K-9 partner who died in a crash while sitting in their patrol car. A pedestrian male is also dead after the fatal collision.
The Kansas City Police Department shared news of the deaths via a release on Thursday, identifying the KCPD victims as Officer James Muhlbauer, 42, and Champ, his K-9 partner.
"Muhlbauer and Champ were in their patrol vehicle when a vehicle crashed into them near the intersection of Truman Rd. and Benton Blvd. shortly after 10:15 p.m.," the department said.
Champ, a 3-year-old Dutch Shepard, was pronounced dead at the scene, along with a pedestrian who had been hit. The KCPD simply described the third victim as a male in his 50s. His identity has not been made public; however, officers asked the public to pray for his family.
Muhlbauer, who was also a husband and father, was rushed to the hospital where he died. He suffered life-threatening injuries, and "doctors treated him, but were unable to save him."
Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said, according to the Associated Press, that police officers from another department brought Champ's remains to the hospital so he and Muhlbauer could enjoy what Graves called a "heroes' escort" one final time.
"You live with your dog, your partner, your family lives with your partner," said Graves, per the AP. "You go to work every day. You train every day. You literally eat, sleep and live with your partner. They're more than just a dog. They are truly the best partners they can have."
Before Muhlbauer's death, a KCPD officer had not died in the line of duty since May 2001, the department said in its release.
It also saluted Muhlbauer as a 20-year veteran who served as a patrol officer "his entire career in patrol, including the last three years in the K-9 Unit."
Champ joined the KCPD force last year and lived with Muhlbauer and the late officer's family.
The KCPD said it is investigating the crash, "including the possibility of impaired driving by the driver of the striking vehicle."
The case will go to the prosecutor's office after the KCPD wraps its investigation.
The department is preparing memorial services and plans to share details with the public when they are finalized, the KCPD's release said.
Local residents can pay tribute by putting flowers on a patrol vehicle that is in front of Police Headquarters at 1125 Locust St.
"We hurt," the KCPD added in a Facebook post.
UPDATE - Driver doing almost 90mph, ran a red light, arrested, what a piece of crap.