Hancock County Sheriff Scott Kane paused from emotions during a press conference about the death of Deputy Luke Gross early Thursday morning. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Hancock County Sheriff Scott Kane provided more details about a crash that killed one of the sheriff’s department’s officers early this morning during an emotional press conference on Thursday.

Kane praised deputy Luke Gross, who he described as an outstanding officer who had a passion for helping within his community. Kane was emotional during the press conference, with his voice breaking while describing Gross’ family. Gross leaves behind a wife of 15 years, Lauren, as well as a son and daughter.

“He loved them dearly and was active in all their lives,” Kane said. “We will miss Luke greatly.”

The department first received word of a vehicle off the road on Route 3 in Trenton at around 4:50 a.m., Kane said. While at the scene investigating, Gross was hit by a car going northbound. Suffering serious injuries, he died despite efforts to save him, Kane said.

Kane did not disclose the name of the driver who hit Gross or if they had been criminally charged. He directed any questions about the event to the Maine State Police, who are handling the investigation.

Gross previously served in police departments in Winthrop and Sabattus. Gross, who was originally from Bucksport, moved to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department in 2003 to get closer to home.

Hancock County Sheriff Scott Kane paused from emotions during a press conference about the death of Deputy Luke Gross early Thursday morning. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Other law enforcement remembered Gross fondly Thursday. Officer Ernie MacVane of the Windham Police Department, who knew Gross from their police academy days together in Waterville 21 years ago, described him as a big, strong man with a friendly way about him and a happy smile.

“This one hurts a lot,” he said. “Talk about a super guy. Just the best. Just a compassionate, gentle man and a great police officer. Someone you could call at any time and know he’d be there for you.”

Although the two men hadn’t been in touch recently, MacVane was certain that essential characteristics of Gross were unchanged.

“He loved his job. He loved the people that he served. He believed in his job and he believed in service,” he said. “We aren’t perfect. But if there was a bar to be set, he was the bar.”

Hancock County Sheriff Scott Kane holds a press conference about the death of Deputy Luke Gross early Thursday morning. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The news that Gross had been killed on duty hit MacVane hard. It’s not easy to wake up every morning and face the unknown, he said, especially when it seems like more and more people are driving while texting or otherwise are not paying attention behind the wheel.

“What that man did for 22 years was that he got up every day and he went to work. He strapped a gun to his body every day for 22 years. That gets in your head. I’m getting dressed for battle every morning,” he said. “Bullet proof vests don’t stop cars, apparently … It’s so dangerous, this job.”

Gross was serving as a member of the Hancock School Board at the time of his death.

Gross was someone who had a passion for helping young people, including serving as a camp volunteer, Kane said. He also took part in sheriff’s department charities that helped purchase Christmas gifts for children in Hancock County.

“The world needs more like Luke in law enforcement,” Kane said.

BDN writer Abigail Curtis contributed to this report.