Vendor Killed at PGA Event, Golfer Arrested after Assaulting Officers

22 May, 2024 Liz Carey


Louisville, KY ( – While the golf world reeled on Monday over the arrest of one of the country’s top golfers prior to the PGA Championship, most overlooked the death that preceded it.

On Friday, May 17, Louisville resident John Mills was struck by a shuttle bus outside of Valhalla Golf Club where the championship tournament was scheduled to occur later that day.

Officials said Mills was attempting to cross Shelbyville Road around 5 a.m. He was working as a vendor at the championship, and was in the bus lane when he was hit by the shuttle bus. Officials with the Louisville Metro Police Department said he died at the scene.

"LMPD expresses its sincere condolences to the family of the individual who died as a result of that collision,” the police department said. “All lanes of traffic at the scene were closed while the fatality investigation occurred. LMPD personnel were also directing traffic around the scene. While an officer was directing traffic, an encounter with a motorist attempting to make entry into a restricted area ultimately led to the driver being arrested. We are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation. We are appreciative that all parties involved are fully cooperating.”

PGA of America also released a statement soon after the crash.

"This morning we were devastated to learn that a worker with one of our vendors was tragically struck and killed by a shuttle bus outside Valhalla Golf Club,” the PGA said in a statement. “This is heartbreaking to all of us involved with the PGA Championship. We extend our sincere condolences to their family and loved ones.”

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg’s office also expressed its sympathies.

"This morning, our city experienced a tragic accident that took the life of John Mills, a Louisvillian who will be greatly missed by his family and our community. Our focus is on this family who lost their loved one. I have spoken with members of Mr. Mills’ family to convey our city’s condolences."

By 6 a.m., traffic was backed up around the golf club as police investigated. It was then that golfer Scottie Scheffler was arrested for assaulting an officer, among other charges.

While officials said police and security presence outside of a major championship is common. One PGA Tour swing coach told the New York Times driving by a police presence is something they do on a regular basis.

Scheffler was attempting to get to the golf club when police said he illegally bypassed the scene of Mills death. Police said Scheffler failed to stop when ordered to by Louisville Metro Police Department Detective Bryan Gillis. The officer then attached himself to Scheffler’s car. According to the police report, Scheffler continued to move forward, “dragging Detective Gillis to the ground.” Jeff Darlington, an ESPN NFL reporter assigned to cover the tournament, was on the scene and reported that Scheffler’s vehicle moved 10 to 20 yards before it came to a final stop.

Police said the officer was dragged “to the ground” by the car and suffered “pain, swelling and abrasions to his left wrist” when the vehicle accelerated forward. The police department said Gillis’ uniform was also irreparably damaged.

The officer was sent to the hospital.

A spokesman for Greenberg, Kevin Trager, said there was no police body camera video of the incident as the officer was directing traffic at the time and it is not policy for officers directing traffic to record video with their body cameras.

Scheffler’s attorney, Steve Romines, told the New York Times that Scheffler was originally instructed to go in and that the officer directing traffic was not part of the event traffic detail.

“So that’s where the miscommunication arose and that’s why we’re here,” Romines said Friday morning.

Darlington said when Scheffler did stop, Scheffler lowered his window and the officer reached in, grabbed Scheffler’s arm and pulled the door open. Darlington said the officer then put Scheffler in handcuffs and pushed him against the car. Video filmed by Darlington showed Scheffler turned to him and said, “Can you help?”

Another officer is shown telling Darlington, “You need to get out of the way. Right now, he’s going to jail, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

He was charged with multiple counts, including second-degree assault of a police officer and reckless driving.

Scheffler was the heavy favorite coming into the tournament following a string of wins in various golf tournaments. On Thursday, Scheffler had won four out of five of the tournaments he entered, including the Masters’ last month in Augusta, Georgia.

He was released later that day in time for his 10 a.m. tee time.

Scheffler said he never intended to break any traffic laws, and said the events that led to his arrest were a “big misunderstanding.” His arraignment has been set for June 3 in Louisville.

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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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