Community mourns loss of Bartholomew County K9 ‘Diesel’


BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind. — Flags outside the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office are at half-staff as they mourn the loss of their beloved K9, Diesel. 

The German Sheppard was known around the department as “Big D.” Diesel died during while pursuing a domestic battery suspect Saturday. 

“He’s been with the department for four years since this past October. He was big, big in stature, and he’s going to be missed,” said Chief Deputy Chris Lane.

Saturday afternoon, deputies began searching for 36-year-old Michael Stephens, who had outstanding felony warrants. They found him that afternoon while in a car riding with others near the area of 600 South and 650 West.

“At that time, the officers attempted to make contact. The passenger, which is our suspect, exited the vehicle and fled on foot,” said Lane.

Lane says Stephens ran from deputies on foot, and Diesel chased him through a wooded area that led to Interstate 65. A deputy located Diesel lying in the road along I-65 South. The suspect was apprehended after being found hiding in a ditch along I-65 North.

“There is not much trauma that was noticed with diesel when we looked at him that night. That’s the other reason why we wanted to make sure we take him to Purdue so they could do their forensics and do a proper autopsy for the K9,” explained Lane.

Diesel, who was just shy of 6 years old, is the first K9 the department has lost in the line of duty. There are still two others, but there is something about “Big D” that can’t be replaced. 

“He has been involved in numerous narcotics-related arrests, other situations where people have fled from us, or he’s made apprehensions,” said Lane.

He gave his life to this department, and in return, they gave him belly rubs. But they’ll also give him the proper homegoing with COVID at the forefront of their minds. 

Stephens is now facing new charges that include resisting law enforcement and cruelty to a law enforcement animal. 

BCSO still needs your help. They are asking anyone who was traveling on Saturday along I-65 near the 62 mile-marker between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. in the Columbus area to give them a call.

They want to know if you saw anyone cross the interstate or saw Diesel. Call BCSO at 812-379-1650 and ask to speak with Lt. Chad Swank of the Investigations Division.

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