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Henrico deputy dies in car crash; aspired to become lawyer

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Henrico sheriff's deputy killed in Goochland wreck

Henrico County Sheriff’s Deputy Gabriel T. Pearce was a 2013 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, said Henrico Sheriff Michael Wade.

A 22-year-old Henrico County sheriff’s deputy working toward his lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer died in a car crash early Thursday morning in Goochland County.

Gabriel T. Pearce, of the 12000 block of Walnut Hill Drive in Rockville, died about 2:40 a.m. when his 2003 Honda CRV ran off the left side of Rockville Road, struck several trees and overturned, ejecting him from the vehicle, said Goochland County Sheriff James L. Agnew.

There was no immediate indication of the cause of the wreck.

“When the officers came to the door, we knew something had happened to him,” said Pearce’s mother, Noemi Pearce, whose husband had been stopped near the crash site on his way to work because of the wreck.

She said her son, one of five children, lived at home to save money and always called if he was going to be late. There was no call Thursday. Pearce, who attended Patrick Henry High School, had been out with friends on his day off and had finished an 88-hour workweek as a sheriff’s deputy in Henrico County, his mother said.

He played rugby, loved the country life and was set on achieving his goals from an early age. “He would always finish his homework and couldn’t stand not getting it done from the minute he got home from school,” his mother said.

“He was so determined to get his college tuition paid off so he could go on to the next level. He thought working as a deputy was a good way to get started and pay off the loans. He’s wanted to be a lawyer since he was 8 years old,” Noemi Pearce said.

“He had a great sense of right and wrong, and he always worried that he would have trouble representing someone he knew was guilty of something,” she said.

Pearce graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University this past May with a double major in criminal justice and homeland security, his mother said. He’d joined the Henrico Sheriff’s Office as a full-time deputy in April, having completed training through a cooperative arrangement between VCU and Henrico that provides graduates a beginning opportunity in police work.

Henrico Sheriff Michael Wade said Pearce had been accepted as a part-time deputy last year and joined his department full time in April working as a guard in Henrico Jail West.

“He was well-liked by everyone here and had really taken advantage of the academy we have that helps people get a foot in the door who are interested in a career in law enforcement,” Wade said.

Wade said Pearce was a hard worker who wanted as much overtime as possible to help pay off his college tuition costs.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete Thursday.

For Pearce’s mother, news of the tragedy brought back memories of another loss. Her brother died in a motorcycle crash in June 30 years ago.

“Gabe’s middle name, Thomas, was my brother’s name,” Pearce said.

wmckelway@timesdispatch.com   (804) 649-6601

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