The Hancock County sheriff’s deputy who died Thursday was struck by a pickup as he was cleaning up debris at a crash scene.
The name of the driver who struck Deputy Luke Gross has not been released. The Maine State Police are investigating the crash.
“No charges are expected to be filed at this time,” Shannon Moss, a spokesperson for Maine Department of Public Safety, said Friday morning, adding that the driver has been cooperating fully. She said state police are not releasing the pickup driver’s name because no charges have been filed.
Gross was responding to a report of a crash on Route 3 in Trenton about 4:30 a.m. Thursday but the driver had fled in that vehicle prior to his arrival, Moss said. Gross parked his cruiser in the northbound breakdown lane with his emergency lights activated and was standing outside his cruiser, wearing a high visibility traffic vest and picking up debris from the road when he was struck from behind by a small pick-up truck at around 5:15 a.m.
Gross died at the scene.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Deputy Gross and the men and women of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office as they navigate this unexpected and difficult loss,” Moss said.
Moss said state police also are investigating the initial crash to which Gross responded. Thorin Smith, 20, of Bar Harbor, was found around 9 a.m. Thursday sleeping in his Honda CRV “a short distance” away from the accident scene in Route 3, Moss said. Smith has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident, illegal use of drug paraphernalia and illegal possession of alcohol by a minor, she said.
Gross, 44, had been a deputy with Hancock County since 2003. Prior to that, he held full-time patrol officer positions with police departments in Winthrop and Sabattus, and worked part time for the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. He grew up in Bucksport and lived in the town of Hancock, where he was serving as a member of the town’s school committee when he died.
A husband and father of two children, Gross is remembered by those who knew him as a compassionate police officer who sought to help make a difference in the lives of people he came into contact with, both in his personal life and through his job.
“Luke brought a level head, positive attitude, valuable insight and a strong love for his community and the children within it,” members of the Hancock School Committee said Thursday. “We are deeply saddened by his passing [and] his presence will be missed in our community.”
In addition to serving on his local school board, Gross also was known to have made an extra effort to connect with school children and programs in Stonington, where for a time he served as the sheriff’s department designated patrol officer.