AMHERST — From helping clear wrecks to interacting with residents during meals at Subway in Amherst, Virginia State Police trooper Lucas B. Dowell always had the same “sweet smile and twinkle in his pretty blue eyes,” said Steve Martin.
“Lucas Dowell’s first impression was awesome,” Martin said of his fallen friend who was killed Feb. 4 in the line of duty in Cumberland County. “He was such a nice, sweet young man.”
A large crowd gathered at Amherst County High School’s auditorium Friday to celebrate the dedication of the “Trooper Lucas B. Dowell Bridge” on U.S. 29 Business over the U.S. 29 Bypass in Amherst.
Martin, owner of Martin’s Paint & Body Shop in Amherst and chaplain of the Amherst Volunteer Fire Department, gathered over 2,000 signatures in the weeks after Dowell’s death to have the bridge dedicated. He said he wants students at the high school to remember how Dowell gave his life in service to others when they cross the bridge.
Martin prayed for several dozen law enforcement and public safety workers gathered to always return home safely from their shifts.
“I pray each day I never have to do this again,” he said while grieving the officer.
Dowell, 28, was killed while executing a search warrant on a home just north of Farmville as part of a state police tactical team assisting the Piedmont Regional Drug and Gang Task Force with a search of the home.
A native of Chilhowie, Dowell had been living in Lynchburg and had became a trooper in 2014 after graduating from Radford University with a degree in criminal justice. He worked at the state police’s Area 20 office in Amherst and had strong ties to the community he served, said Col. Gary T. Settle, superintendent of the state police.
Dowell’s parents, Mike and Becky, and sister Erica took part in unveiling the bridge sign during the ceremony. Becky Dowell thanked the community for its kindness and generosity in remembering her son and thanked anyone wearing a uniform.
“Lucas loved the people here in Amherst and this area. He considered this his home,” said Becky Dowell, adding that the bridge will serve as a permanent reminder of Lucas’ life.
Lucas is the only state police trooper to have two bridges named in his honor, according to Settle. On Nov. 1, another bridge will be dedicated in Smyth County, where he grew up.