EBR deputy killed in crash was ‘fine young man,’ sheriff says

An East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy killed in a two-vehicle crash in Central Friday night had wanted to work in law enforcement since he was 5 years old, said Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.

“He knew this was all about public service, and I think he had that servant mentality and that servant heart,” Gautreaux said. “He was just a fine young man.”

Dustin B. Hamilton, 24, who had worked for the Sheriff’s Office for nearly two years, was driving northbound on Joor Road near Tynewood Avenue around 7:15 p.m. Friday when he lost control of his patrol car and crossed into southbound traffic, said Trooper First Class Jared Sandifer, a State Police spokesman.

Hamilton then over-corrected to the right, and a 1999 Ford Explorer traveling southbound on Joor Road slammed into the driver-side of Hamilton’s marked patrol car, Sandifer said.

State Police investigators have not determined what caused Hamilton to cross into oncoming traffic, nor have they determined whether he was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, Sandifer said.

The driver of the Ford Explorer, Gloria Burrell, 26, of Zachary, was taken to Ochsner Medical Center in Baton Rouge Friday with serious injuries, Sandifer said. An update on the condition of Burrell — who was wearing a seat belt — was unavailable Saturday night, he said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Sheriff Gautreaux and the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Department,” Sandifer said. “This one definitely, involving (an officer), it hits close to home, something we never want to see happen.”

The crash happened after Hamilton left a security detail Friday night at the Wal-Mart store near Cortana Mall, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.

A graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University’s criminal justice program, Hamilton had held a management job at a McDonald’s in Central prior to joining the Sheriff’s Office. That role earned him the nickname “Happy Meal” among his fellow deputies, Gautreaux said.

“The day that I swore (Hamilton) in, he said this was one of the proudest days of his life,” Gautreaux said.

Hamilton’s death comes about two weeks after the death of Corey Eugene Gueho, 32, a sheriff’s deputy who was unexpectedly diagnosed with leukemia and died several days later.

“It was all pretty quick,” Gautreaux said. “We’re still dealing with (Gueho’s) loss — and then this happened,” he said.