CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — A glass case filled with awards and accomplishments shined in the Gillus living room in Chesterfield County on Monday. Many of the trophies, certificates, and state championship rings in the case were earned by 25-year-old Darius Gillus.
“I feel like I’m dreaming and once I wake up, he’s going to come out and say, ‘Everything’s okay,” said his mother, Gail Gillus. “But I know he’s gone.”
Virginia State Police said Gillus was driving west on Interstate 64 at mile marker 209 in New Kent County when he ran off the road and hit the trees on Friday night.
Gillus was driving to his mother’s home in Chesterfield from his work as a real estate appraiser in Norfolk when he crashed - a trip he’s made countless times. Phone calls and texts to his phone went unanswered and his mother feared the worse.
“It was like in the movies, and you never think it’s true that police officers come to your door like that. When I saw them, I knew, I knew in my heart it wasn’t going to be good news,” Gail Gillus recalled.
Gillus’ love for competition and athletics began at an early age where he played youth sports. He earned two state championships with the L.C. Bird High football team. He also pitched for the Skyhawks.
He then took his talents to play baseball at Old Dominion University and graduated with a degree in criminology.
“He was just an amazing guy. Just a perfect son,” Gillus’ dad Quinton said. “I keep looking at the phone like I’m going to text him or he’s going to text me.”
Gillus was wearing a seatbelt and died at the scene.
Detectives believe he may have fallen asleep at the wheel when he crashed.
“The investigation indicates a gradual departure from the roadway without braking prior to impact,” Sgt. Dylan Davenport wrote in a press release.
Dozens shared their condolences to the Gillus family on social media including his former high school baseball team.
“He was such a wonderful person. Funny, positive, interesting, smart, he was just great to be around and I'm so lucky I knew him. Love you, Gilly!,” an ODU photographer wrote on Twitter.
L C Bird is saddened to hear of the passing of Darius Gillus. Darius an amazing young man who played baseball and football at Bird. Member of the 2013 State championship team. After Bird he played baseball at ODU. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. pic.twitter.com/LWQrB0Lnbf— L. C. Bird Athletics (@bird_athletics) October 2, 2021
This family now thinks of the what-ifs.
“I wish I could’ve called him that particular night and say, ‘Hey, why don’t you wait until the morning,” his father said.
“Hug your kids because tomorrow is not promised,” Gail shared.
His family is now planning a celebration of life and expects a large turnout from those who knew Darius.
“He was just a good guy, and all the posts I see is one thing,” Gail explained. “I see is, they’re going to miss his smile. He had an unforgettable smile.”
Deadly weekend in Central Virginia
Virginia State Police said Gillus’ crash was one of four fatal weekend crashes troopers are investigating across the Richmond region.
Troopers responded to a single-vehicle crash on I-64 at mile marker 162 in Louisa County at 5:43 a.m. Saturday. Leonard L. Taylor Jr died when investigators said he ran off the road to the left, struck a tree, and his truck caught fire.
“The investigation indicates a gradual departure from the roadway without braking prior to impact,” Sgt. Davenport said.
He was the driver and sole occupant of the Ford and the 39-year-old from Kents Store was wearing a seatbelt.
State Police is also investigating a motorcycle crash on Monroe Bay Circle near Wakefield Drive in Westmoreland County that occurred just before 9:40 p.m. Saturday, according to troopers.
“Robert K. Bowen, 47, of Colonial Beach, was headed west on a 2006 Harley Davidson when he ran off the road left where the road curved to the right. Bowen became separated from the motorcycle and struck a tree,” State Police said in a statement.
Detectives said Bowen was not wearing a helmet and died at the scene of the crash.
A driver died at the scene of a four-vehicle crash in the 14400 block of Route 22 (Louisa Road) just after 8 p.m. Sunday in Louisa County.
“Three drivers were transported for treatment of injuries not believed to be life-threatening,” Sgt. Davenport said. “One driver died at the scene. There were no passengers in any of the vehicles.”
Sgt. Davenport said troopers are increasingly investigating more crashes on the weekends involving young people.
“There’s a lot of sleep research but one of the things human beings are unable to do is predict the exact moment when you’ll fall asleep,” she explained. “It’s important for drivers not to push them too far when you’re first noticing those signs of fatigue, get to a safe location, take a rest — if that’s an option for you. Have a drink, get out, and walk.”