ELLSWORTH — The late Luke Gross, a Hancock County Sheriff’s deputy who was killed in the line of duty Sept. 23, is being remembered as a man devoted to his wife, Lauren, children Ryan and Alissa, friends, co-workers and his job protecting and serving the public.
The Hancock resident was 44. He was struck by a vehicle at about 5:15 a.m. last Thursday while clearing debris from Route 3 in Trenton. He was pronounced dead on scene.
Hancock County offices will be closed Thursday, Sept. 30, so that employees can attend funeral services for the Bucksport native and former Golden Bucks football player. The funeral is being held at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor at noon. Those who wish to attend should arrive by 11:30 a.m.
Governor Janet Mills has ordered that flags statewide be flown at half-mast in Gross’s honor.
It’s clear from the stories about Gross that he lived to serve others.
Mount Desert Island Police Officer Ken Mitchell worked with Gross briefly at the Sheriff’s Office and the pair became the best of friends.
“He would do anything for anybody,” the officer said.
Mitchell has been fighting cancer for the past four years and Gross has driven him to Boston on more than one occasion for treatments.
“He would have driven me to Boston any time I asked him to,” Mitchell said. “That’s just the way it was.”
“Probably a couple of years ago, when I was cracking bones a lot, cracking ribs, I ended up cracking a rib at my house,” Mitchell recalled. “I needed someone to help get me out of this house without having to go by ambulance. I called Luke and his wife, Lauren, who’s a nurse. He was strong and he was a big guy. They came over and got me.”
“The last year or so I’ve had to go to Boston alone,” because of the pandemic, Mitchell said. “Luke would always find out I’d gone by myself and give me a hard time. I’d say you can’t do anything down there. You’d be sitting in the car all day. He was like, ‘I’ll sit in the car for two days.’”
“I worked with him directly a little bit at the Sheriff’s Office,” Mitchell said. “I always felt comfortable going to complaints with him because I knew he was going to be professional. He was also compassionate.”
“You go out on those really dangerous calls, the domestics and the mental health checks with weapons involved,” Mitchell continued. “Nothing’s routine about police work, but certainly investigating an accident is more routine than other things and this happens.”
Gross was the guy you wanted on your team.
“For me professionally, Luke was always my go-to,” said Hancock County Chief Deputy Patrick Kane. “I can’t think of one occasion in the 18 years we worked together he told me no. If there was a community event, educational event or event involving children, I leaned on Luke intensely. And every time that I asked it was a ‘yes’ without hesitation.”
“Personally, Luke was a friend, plain and simple,” Kane said. “Work was work, but at the end of the day he was always there.”
Gross managed to find time to serve his personal community of Hancock and its children as a parent volunteer at Hancock Grammar School and as president of the school board.
Superintendent Katrina Kane said Gross was elected to the school board in 2016 and had served as chairman since September 2019.
“From his very first meeting, it was clear that he wanted to assist HGS in any way possible,” Kane said.
“Our Hancock Grammar School community suffered a tremendous loss by the sudden death of Deputy Luke Gross,” she said. “First and foremost, Luke was a very involved and supportive parent who wanted the best for all the children in our school. He was a parent volunteer, assisting with projects such as the installation of our playground.
Gross was a counselor at Camp POSTCARD, held every year for children who may not otherwise get a traditional summer camp experience. POSTCARD stands for “Police Officers Striving to Create and Reinforce Dreams” and was founded by Sheriff Scott Kane about 28 years ago.
Sheriff Kane “retired” Gross’s call number during the Hancock County Commissioners meeting Tuesday.
“Deputy Gross was a valuable and highly respected deputy at the Sheriff’s Office for 18 years,” Kane said.
“Out of respect and recognition of Deputy Gross’s long service, today, September 28, 2021, as sheriff of Hancock County, I am officially retiring the call sign Han9. No other deputy going forward will ever be assigned that call number. Someone eventually will fill Deputy Gross’s spot at the Sheriff’s Office, but no one will ever replace him.”