BJJ Brown Belt And Police Officer Brian LaVigne Killed On The Job 2 Days Before Retirement

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Cpl. Brian LaVigne, a BJJ brown belt under Travis Baumgardner with 30 years on the force, reported to duty like any night on January 11 with the expectation of getting through the next two days of his dedicated service until his scheduled retirement that Wednesday. Unfortunately, he would not make it to that occasion.

Two deputies arrived on the scene of a disturbance call, and an altercation broke out, resulting in the suspect fleeing the scene in his vehicle. Cpl. LaVigne sat in his squad car parked on the side of the road with the lights on at the end of the block when the suspect allegedly veered his car across two lanes of traffic, intentionally colliding into the side of LaVigne’s vehicle. LaVigne later died in the hospital at age 54 after receiving treatment for the accident, two days after being promoted to brown belt.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister had this to say when asked for a statement for the Jiu-Jitsu Times:

“Master Corporal Brian LaVigne was a man of many passions, but above all else, was his commitment to his family and service to his community. He worked with the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office for 30 years, and it’s heartbreaking to know that he was so close to retirement, just one shift away when his life was tragically and senselessly taken. He will always be remembered as a loving husband and father, a coach, a mentor, and a man who gave his all, whether it was learning the art of Jiu-Jitsu or working as a sheriff’s deputy. May he rest in peace.”

LaVigne’s obituary describes him as a certified Spanish translator who had taught himself to play the bagpipes. He leaves behind his wife of 33 years, Cathleen Diane Russell LaVigne; his children, Caitlin LaVigne and Erin LaVigne; his mother, Carol LaVigne; his sister, Pamela Weyh; and his brother, Kevin LaVigne; in addition to his extended family.

A full honorary funeral service will be held on Jan. 19th, and a donation fund has been set up to help with the family. In the moments of mourning, don’t forget that keepsakes such as a memorial card are definitely an essential in paying tribute. It entails how special someone was, or will continue to be, in our very lives.  

Rest well brother, the mats will miss you, and I hope to see you in Valhalla soon.


Editor’s note: The author of this post, Kevin Gallagher, was Brian LaVigne’s first jiu-jitsu coach when LaVigne first began his journey on the mats about seven years ago. The Jiu-Jitsu Times sends our deepest condolences to LaVigne’s family and friends.


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