SHELBYVILLE — An off-duty Shelby County Sheriff's deputy died after he crashed a motorcycle and became pinned underneath it early Wednesday on I-74 in Shelby County.
The Shelby County Sheriff's Department identified him as Jay L. Griffith Jr., 37, of Shelbyville. He was a nine-year veteran of the department, having served since June 2013.
"Deputy Griffith’s passing is an immense loss to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department and our community in which he lived and served. I want to share my condolences with Jay’s family friends and colleagues, he will be greatly missed. Please respect the Griffith Family’s privacy during this very difficult time," Sheriff Louie Koch said in a statement.
Griffith was participating in a multi-state motorcycle ride in a large group of other motorcyclists at the time, according to Indiana State Police
The ride had just started in Shelbyville when the crash happened in the westbound lanes of the interstate near the exit to North State Road 9.
"Anytime we lose a police officer it's hard, whether it be in the line of duty or off duty. Regardless, it's a human life. It's someone's family member and somebody's loved one and we mourn the loss," ISP Sgt. John Perrine said. "We also continue to support that family and that community where that void has been left."
State troopers and Shelby County Sheriff's deputies responded about 3:38 a.m. to find Griffith unconscious and unresponsive while trapped underneath the motorcycle.
He was later pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation found the motorcycle began to skid after Griffith applied the brakes, causing the vehicle to fall over and trap him underneath, ISP said.
Griffith was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
The exit ramp was closed for several hours while police investigated the crash.
Perrine says troopers will help cover calls in Shelby County and will talk to Sheriff Koch about how ISP can help.
"We are human. We are not immune from the emotion that comes with things like this," Perrine said. "Although it is something that happens in our profession, we are not numb to it and it affects us and we want to support one another but we also want to continue to serve our communities in the capacity that we are expected to and we will continue to do that as well."
The Morristown Police Department says Griffith previously served as a Reserve Deputy Town Marshal with the Morristown Police Department.
"[Griffith] enjoyed serving the community he grew up in. Condolences to his family & friends, he will be missed," the department shared on Twitter.
He was also a 2003 graduate of Morristown High School.
Morristown Jr./Sr. High School Principal Jeremy Powers told WRTV he didn't know Griffith personally but several staff members were "deeply saddened" by his death.
"We are saddened to hear the loss of Deputy Jay Griffith. We know he was beloved by many in our community and our staff who knew Jay had the utmost respect for him. Our school and community mourn the loss of Jay," Powers said.
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