Beloved disability rights campaigner and his service Labrador die in crash

A much loved disability rights campaigner and his service Labrador both died when their van veered across a road and into a concrete median. Dustin Gilmore, 29, died while driving his car along the I-465 in Indianapolis, Indiana, last Friday, with his yellow Lab Carver also killed in the smash.

Gilmore, who managed the disability affairs office for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works, shot across four lanes of the northbound freeway at 1am, before hitting the barrier. Police are working to investigate the cause of the fatal smash, but say they do not believe alcohol was a factor.

Dustin’s step-grandmother Maureen Gilmer was among those who paid tribute to him, saying: ‘He was just a very social young man.

‘And people liked him. People were drawn to him. He just knew so many people and he was just such a bright light that you couldn’t help but love him. It’s wonderful to hear that he touched so many peoples’ hearts.

‘It’s just so hard to believe that he’s gone…He was a light. And I don’t understand why he’s gone. He was an encourager, he was a motivator.’

The Indy Star reported how Dustin studied journalism at university, before getting a job which helped improve accessibility for disabled people living in his home state.

Dustin was born with polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, a condition which sees tissue grow in place of bone, causing sufferers uneven growth and weak bones. Doctors warned Dustin’s parents he was unlikely to live beyond the age of five, but he defied their odds in style, and died just a week short of his 30th birthday.

Dustin was also a huge sports fan, and was remembered for his gritty determination to succeed while playing softball as a child.

Basketball team the Indiana Pacers were among those who paid tribute to Dustin in the wake of his death, tweeting: ‘We are incredibly saddened by the loss of Dustin Gilmer, a local disability advocate and Pacers fan who was a frequent sight during games at @TheFieldhouse.

‘We offer our deepest condolences to Dustin’s family and friends.’

Dustin will be laid to rest at a funeral service on Friday.

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