Town honors Danville officer killed in line of duty one year ago


January 17 marks one year since the passing of Danville Police Officer Tom Cottrell. The community has planned to honor his memory in a Tuesday night basketball game, then share memories in a candlelight vigil outside of the police department after the game.

The officer's mother is touched by the tributes, but due to family obligations could not take part. "I'm with my daughter in Georgia, and any day we're expecting my new granddaughter, the niece that my son will never meet," said Tom Cottrell's mother Melissa Osborn.

"It was a year ago today that I received that phone call that no parent should ever receive. Ever," said Osborn. "There's a huge, huge hole left in this family."

Osborn said that every part of her has changed and no day passes that she does not ache to see her son again. "It's been the worst year of my life. It was the worst day of my life and half of me is gone. He was my light, my laughter. He was my rock and my protector and there is a before and an after. It is really painful to try to move forward," said Osborn.

Members of the Danville community have continued to show they also miss the well-liked officer. Ribbons hang on trees and poles in the community and several porches still shine a blue light in the evening to honor Cottrell. Danville resident Jeanette Sheldon said those efforts and others, like a sign she's left outside of the town's Mini Mart, show the ongoing support.

"Nothing this big, this dramatic has happened to our time. It kind of shocked us first but then we realized we have to keep going forward because that's what Tom would want us to do," said Sheldon.

For the last year Sheldon, an employee of the Danville Mini Mart, said those passing along Main Street read her sign that says 'Hero: Officer Cottrell'.

She said Tom was known well as the guy who was quick to help kids in Danville, but he also went out of his way for businesses like the Mini Mart.

"He would always ask how we were doing and when we were closing he would drive by to make sure we were safe," said Sheldon.