Trenton, ME – Hancock County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Deputy Luke Gross died in the line of duty on Thursday morning after being struck by a vehicle while he was cleaning up debris from the scene of a crash.
The 44-year-old deputy responded to the crash scene located on Route 3 near the Ellsworth-Trenton town line at approximately 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 23, WCSH reported.
When he arrived at the scene, Deputy Gross discovered the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash had fled the area.
The deputy activated the emergency lights of his patrol car and parked it in the westbound breakdown lane, then put on his “high visibility traffic vest” and got out of his cruiser to investigate, Maine Department of Public Safety (DPS) spokesperson Shannon Moss told WCSH.
As Deputy Gross was collecting debris from the roadway, a small pickup truck crashed into him from behind at approximately 5:15 a.m., Moss said.
The deputy died as a result of his injuries.
Moss said the driver who hit Deputy Gross remained at the scene and has been entirely cooperative with the MSP, WCSH reported.
She said the driver is not expected to be charged.
Deputy Gross served with the Sabattus Police Department and the Winthrop Police Department before he joined the HCSO in 2003, WCSH reported.
He spent the next eighteen years serving the community of Hancock County.
“Luke had a passion for working [with] and helping young people,” Hancock County Sheriff Scott Kane said during an emotional press conference on Thursday afternoon. “Luke was at home working in schools and being with kids. He was a role model and was highly respected.”
Hancock resident Christina Leeman Gramolini described Deputy Gross as an “amazing man” who was “always there whenever anybody needed him,” the Bangor Daily News reported.
Gramolini said the longtime deputy was “a guardian angel” to her during a domestic violence call at her home nearly three years ago.
“I met him on, so far, the worst day of my life,” she said. “I think a lot of people came across him on some of their worst days.”
“He was so kind. He made sure that I knew it was serious, that this was a pattern that needed to be broken,” Gramolini told the Bangor Daily News. “He just went above and beyond. It made me feel that somebody cared.”
Hancock County Sheriff Scott Kane said Deputy Gross worked as a camp counselor at Camp POSTCARD (Police Officer Striving To Create And Reinforce Dreams) and as a D.A.R.E. officer in addition to his patrol duties, and that he was also a member of the Hancock school board, WCSH reported.
“Luke always had a smile and he was a joy to be around. He had an outgoing personality and was always willing to lend a hand and help out,” Sheriff Kane told reporters, choking back tears. “We will miss Luke greatly. He was a great addition to our family at the sheriff’s office and a credit to his profession. The world needs more like Luke in law enforcement and in our communities.”
Deputy Gross leaves behind his wife of 15 years, Lauren, and his two children, WCSH reported.
Maine Governor Janet Mills ordered flags be lowered to half-staff on the day of Deputy Goss’ memorial service, which is yet to be determined.
“Today, we mourn the loss of Deputy Gross, a member of Maine’s law enforcement community killed in the line of duty,” Mills said in a statement, according to WCSH. “My heart goes out to his friends, family, and fellow officers.”
“May we always remember that our law enforcement officers are dedicated public servants who risk their own lives every day to protect the safety of Maine people. Deputy Gross ended his watch protecting our great state, and his service and sacrifice will not be forgotten,” Mills continued. “On behalf of the people of Maine, I extend our condolences to his family, loved ones, and colleagues around the state.”
GHRT NOW | NOEL MARCH
The Maine Community Policing Institute is among many mourning yesterday's death of Hancock County Sheriff's Deputy Luke Gross.
101.3 Augusta | 103.9 Bangor | 95.1 Rockland pic.twitter.com/f0ncs24n4S
— George Hale Ric Tyler Show (@GeorgeHaleRicT1) September 24, 2021
The Westbrook Police Department extends our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Hancock County Deputy Sheriff Luke Gross who died in the line of duty early this morning in Trenton, Maine. Rest in Peace Deputy Gross. pic.twitter.com/bm4d5d82yU
— Westbrook Maine Police Department (@WestbrookPDME) September 23, 2021
The body of Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy Luke Gross is now arriving to a funeral home in Bucksport. Family members, police officers, and neighbors are here. #NEWSCENTERmaine pic.twitter.com/TMbuWzCu4D
— Hannah Yechivi (@hannahyechiviTV) September 23, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hancock County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Luke Gross, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.