Remembering Deputy Grant Whitaker: one year later

Remembering Deputy Grant Whitaker: Ingham County Sheriff’s Office

INGHAM COUNTY, MI (WLNS) – Deputy Grant Whitaker’s second family, the Ingham County Sheriff’s office, honors and remembers him for paying the ultimate sacrifice.

Many at the sheriff’s office wore a black mourning band across their badges on Monday, on the anniversary of his death.

Deputy Grant Whitaker died in the line of duty on December 7, 2014.

A life that was lost too soon; One that is deeply missed by many at the sheriff’s office.

“I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that Grant’s been gone for a year,” Lt. Steve Sopocy said. “I felt a special connection with Grant, kind of felt like he was my son at work if you will.”

After having worked just a year and a half at the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Whitaker made a long-lasting impression.

As deputies look back on the night he was killed while on a high speed pursuit, they say it’s not a surprise Grant gave his life, protecting the community.

“He was always there, always ready to go, always ready to back you up and be there for you no matter what,” Deputy Rick Hoeksema said.

“Just anything you wanted him to do, he wanted to do it, and he wanted to do it well,” Lt. Sopocy said. “So you knew he had a tremendous amount of potential to go wherever Grant wanted to go.”

“When you lose a staff member like that, it hits you hard ya know,” Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth said. “And it’s etched in my brain going out to the Whitaker house and telling Mr. & Mrs. Whitaker their son got killed.”

Those who worked closely with Grant, describe an irreplaceable employee. He was eager to learn, respectful, with a tremendous amount of potential.

“You miss that niche,” Sgt. James Every said. “There’s a hole that he started and then it’s empty now and I’ve got nothing to fill that one with.”

Though Grant’s life was lost too soon, the memories many have of him, are enough to last a lifetime.

“He had this laugh that was so annoying, but you loved it, I mean it was so loud and boisterous,” Deputy Hoeksema said. “And he really, literally brightened up a room when he came in there because he always had this big smile on his face.”

Deputy Grant Whitaker may not physically be here, but he’s always with them. Pinned on their uniform, while they walk through the hallway, and when they check their work phone; there’s even a room dedicated to him.

“That’s another way that we can memorialize this young man who paid the ultimate sacrifice and as other people come in to train, they’re going to see the same thing,” Sheriff Wriggelsworth said.

Through loss, involving two tight knit families, the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office and the Whitaker family have developed a strong bond, one that was formed, because of Grant.

“Grant Ingham County family is now their Ingham County family,” Lt. Sopocy said. “And we won’t forget Grant, We don’t ever forget.”

Remembering Deputy Grant Whitaker: The Whitaker Family

It was one year ago today, that Ingham County Sheriff’s Deputy Grant Whitaker was killed during a high speed chase near Stockbridge.

Clyde and Mary Whitaker, Grant’s parents, reflect on the first year without their son, Ingham County Deputy Grant Whitaker.

Last year, their world was turned upside down when they got a knock on their door in the early morning of December 7, hearing the tragic news that Grant had been killed.

From that day, to the trial, the Whitaker’s say it’s been a long road.

“The morning that Grant died, I honestly had no idea.. I just thought.. It’s over.. We lost our son, and I never even thought that that continues on and that they’re going to find this person,” Mary Whitaker said.

Reporter: “Did it surprise you at all that Grant was so persistent in catching the guy?”

“No, not at all, he was going to catch him,” Mary and Clyde said. “And he was right on his tail. He could not have performed his job any differently.”

And from that day, to the conviction of the man Deputy Whitaker was chasing, his family says they’re taking it one day at a time.

“Some days are harder than other days, and then there’s always a new first that’s popping into your life and into your face again, that this is the first this without Grant, the first Halloween, first Thanksgiving and now first Christmas,” the Whitaker’s said. “I mean there’s a lot of things.”

And the past year has been painful.

“Having him walk in the back door, having him greet his dog and having her all excited jumping all around because he’s there, having him with us at every get together and hearing his laugh,” Clyde and Mary said.

But the Whitaker’s hold on to those memories that make them smile; Remembering the hardworking 25 year-old as being humble, happy, and respectful.

One who loved hunting, and loved his job. They say using their faith and the outpouring of community support has helped them endure this life changing experience.

“And it’s a gift from God that we are able to be embraced by them and by Ingham County as well,” Mary Whitaker said. “That’s what helps us to get through. They give us that strength that we need.”

The crash site is just a half a mile away from the Whitaker’s home. The same road his mother says she drove him down to take him to school. One they still drive on almost every day.

But instead of being reminded of the pain of that night when they drive by, they now see a memorial to their son.

“Somehow God knew that was going to be important  and it is, through the grace of God and that little graces of God have helped us through this year every single day,” Mary Whitaker said.

The small amount of time Grant had here, made a big difference, one his parents are proud of.

“Grant would not want us to not live anymore,” Mary said. “So therefore we have to pick it up and keep on keeping on because that’s what he wants and someday we’ll be with him again.”

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