A Belleville East High School graduate who went on to serve as a sheriff’s deputy in Tennessee was killed in a car crash on his way back from visiting family in the area over the holidays.
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Deputy Joseph Gilmore, of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department, was driving back to Nashville, Tennessee, when his car crashed on Interstate 24 on Monday, according to the Nashville Tennessean. Gilmore was returning from the metro-east where he had been visiting family, according to news reports.
Gilmore attended Grant Elementary School in Fairview Heights and was a 2010 graduate of Belleville East Township High School, where he played on the basketball team. In a 2009 game, Gilmore scored a career-high 11 points to carry the Lancers to victory over Quincy in the championship game of the Class 4A Pekin Sectional, the first sectional title for East since 1996.
Mark Larsen was Gilmore’s coach when he played basketball in high school. “He came from a big family,” Larsen said. “He was quiet and soft-spoken, but he had a big heart.”
Larsen said Gilmore always wanted to be in law enforcement. He attended college at Mid-Continent University, a liberal arts Christian college in Mayfield, Kentucky. He played basketball there, Larsen said, and then was hired as a probation officer before joining the sheriff’s department in February.
But even in college, his heart led, Larsen said. Gilmore did volunteer work with the homeless, and won a community service award.
“Even though he was quiet, he touched a lot of people,” Larsen said. “A lot of people really will miss him. It’s not fair. He’s gone too soon.”
The accident is still under investigation, though some reports indicated Gilmore may have fallen asleep behind the wheel, the Tennessean reported. He was transported from the accident to TriStar Skyline Medical Center, where he died early Tuesday, according to news reports.
“By all accounts he was a fantastic officer and fantastic person,” Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall said on his Twitter account. “Our hearts are heavy.”
Sheriff’s department spokesman Mark Preville said Gilmore was “dependable, constantly early, loved by his coworkers and always willing to assist.” Preville said in July, Gilmore would have been moved to the metropolitan police department in Nashville.
“This young man had a bright future in front of him,” he said.
Gilmore had a girlfriend who also is employed by the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, Hall said. The official sheriff’s department Twitter declared “we are all grieving.”
“For the short time he was with us, he was part of our family,” it read.