Drivers crossing the Interstate 81 bridge over Whitetop Road will know the name Lucas B. Dowell. They’ll also be reminded of the Virginia State Trooper’s ultimate sacrifice.
State legislators took action in February, shortly after the Chilhowie native was killed in the line of duty, to name the bridge in his memory. This area’s legislators joined Dowell’s family and state police family Friday afternoon to unveil the signs for the bridge and to dedicate the bridge in his memory.
As he welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming, Col. Gary T. Settle, superintendent for the Virginia State Police, said it has been almost nine months since everyone was here for the funeral, “and it seems like it was just yesterday.”
A large group was gathered at Chilhowie Christian Church, where Dowell’s funeral was held in February.
Trooper Dowell, a Chilhowie native, was a member of the Virginia State Police Tactical Team that was assisting the Piedmont Regional Drug and Gang Task Force with executing a search warrant at a Cumberland County residence, just north of Farmville. According to the Virginia State Police, the tactical team made entry into the home shortly before 10 p.m. Feb. 4 when a man inside the residence began shooting at them. The tactical team members returned fire, fatally wounding the man.
The 28-year-old Trooper Dowell was transported to Southside Community Hospital in Farmville, where he died.
State Sen. Bill Carrico, a longtime friend of the family and a onetime state trooper, was among the speakers Friday for the ceremony held at Chilhowie Christian Church.
“What is in a name?” Carrico said he asked himself as he thought of what to say at the dedication ceremony. He quoted scripture about a good name being more desired than great wealth.
“They’re going to know this name,” Carrico said of Dowell, who now has two bridges named after him. “His life was about striving to protect people from evil.”
Lucas Dowell, and his friend Will Walker, another young Chilhowie man who was killed in a farm accident not long before Dowell, have dedications to them in the town of Chilhowie. The former Warrior Park has been renamed the Lucas B. Dowell Memorial Park and the new farmers market under construction is named the Will Walker Farmers Market & Community Pavilion.
Both beloved in their home community, “Their names will be remembered,” Carrico said.
Trooper Dowell was the department’s 66th line of duty death.
Known for his forever-present smile and his love for his work, Dowell was a Chilhowie High School and Radford University graduate. Dowell graduated the Virginia State Police’s 122nd Basic Session in November 2014. Since graduation he was assigned to the Virginia State Police Appomattox Division. He was a member of the Appomattox Division Tactical Team - the equivalent of a SWAT Team – since 2015.
Dowell’s parents, Mike and Becky Dowell, and his sister, Erica, took part in Friday’s ceremony.
Though Settle remembered Dowell’s funeral, he said, today was a good day “because it offered another opportunity to honor this young man.”