Family, coworkers remember men lost in alleged DUI crash

Beau Fluker

LANCASTER – Candles, flowers and handwritten notes marked the spot where Beau Josh Owen Fluker, 26, and Jeffrey Gilstrap, 23 lost their lives in a car crash early Sunday morning.

A note with pictures of both men read:

“R.I.P. Beau Fluker & Jeffrey. You are at a better place now.”

Excerpts from a full page, handwritten letter to Jeffrey Gilstrap read:

“I was homeless and you took me in, fed me, gave me hope and advice… You had strength and heart that very few people ever got to witness… In many ways, you were the bravest of us all.”

Jeffrey Gilstrap

The makeshift memorial was set up on the corner of 20th Street West and Avenue J in Lancaster, the spot where both men died at the scene of a collision, which took place about 2:36 a.m. Sunday.

Fluker and Gilstrap were traveling east on Avenue J when their vehicle collided at the intersection with a second vehicle traveling north on 20th street west, according to Lt. Richard Daniels of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station.

The driver of the second vehicle, Tommie Lee Cole, 24, sustained minor injuries and was arrested for Felony DUI, according to Daniels.

Fluker and Gilstrap were employees at the Walmart on Valley Central Way and had been carpooling home from a late night shift, said Zone Merchandise Supervisor Darryl Theus.

“Jeff got off at 1 a.m., and Beau got off at 2 a.m., so Jeff had to wait for Beau to get off to get a ride home,” said Theus.

Theus said he heard about the crash hours after it happened when the store’s Overnight Manager called him at home to give him the news.

“It was very hard to accept and I went to the scene just to get some closure,” he said. “It is very hard on all of us because they were part of our Walmart family.”

Walmart associates created a "memory board" to post notes to Beau Fluker who worked in Electronics and Jeffrey Gilstrap who worked in Photos.

Theus said several Walmart associates joined friends and family of both men for a candlelight vigil at the crash site Sunday evening.

“There was a crowd of well over 100 people,” Theus said.

“They said prayers for Beau and Jeff and their families and said a prayer for the other driver as well,” said Bridgette Ford, a close friend of Fluker’s family. “Everyone spoke about some kind of experience they had with both of them. One manager talked about how Beau had baked a cake and said it was his mother’s recipe, and I said ‘yeah, that’s Beau!’”

Mourning continued for several Walmart associates Monday.

“It was a very difficult day to get through,” said Shift Manager Clarence Winn. “I had to hold meetings and talk to associates all throughout the day… some of them were really torn and actually had to go home.”

Winn said the employees came up with several ways to remember Fluker and Gilstrap. They created a board to post pictures, cards, and notes in memory of the two men and created blue ribbons (the symbol of drunk driving) and candy bags to be traded for donations to raise money for the men’s families, Winn said. Walmart associates have planned taco and bake sales as fundraisers for the families, as well, said Winn.

Associates created blue ribbons (the symbol of drunk driving) as a fundraiser for the men's families.

“Beau and Jeffrey both were very good associates, and they had a lot of friends and a lot of coworkers that really thought highly of them,” said Winn. “The associates came up with all these ideas themselves because they wanted to pay tribute.”

Beau Fluker’s older sister, Ki Burke, said she felt blessed by the outpouring of support her family has received since the accident.

“We are very appreciative of everything they’re doing at Walmart, from the managers to the sales associates, we are truly blessed by them,” Burke said. “Even the customers have come up to me and spoke to me about Beau.”

“Beau was a beautiful person, he was very forgiving, he loved everyone and he was the most dedicated family member and brother that anyone could have,” Burke continued. “I pray for the other driver.”

“It’s really a tragic incident that happened,” said Winn. “I think we need to get the emphasis back on drunk driving and the prevention of drunk driving because we lost two very great people because of it.”

The driver of the second vehicle involved in Sunday’s collision, Tommie Lee Cole, 24, was in custody at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles as of 8:30 p.m., Monday, according to the Inmate Information System.

Cole is being held on $100,000 bail and is due in court at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the Antelope Valley Courthouse.

Associates created memorial photos in the Walmart Photo Department where Jeffrey Gilstrap worked.

  27 comments for “Family, coworkers remember men lost in alleged DUI crash

  1. Michelle
    March 15, 2012 at 1:30 am

    So sorry for your loss… my mom and I were in a car accident – we were hit by a drunk driver. My mom was killed and the drunk driver walked away without a scratch. I know the hurt this senseless act causes, but I also know the healing, restoring, love of God. Yes, this hurts, but God’s love is bigger. Call out to Him every day and let Him be your comfort and strength. He will bring you all through this.

    God bless you all.

  2. westona
    March 10, 2012 at 2:32 am

    My Dearest Beau, I will truly miss you, my precious Godson. You have always been the joy in both your mothers and my heart, you were our first boy in the family we couldnt wait, now we put you to rest doesnt seem fair, I know God has a special place waiting for you because he knows how special you are. Love you more – Aunt Jackie

    • March 14, 2012 at 6:40 am

      I would like to send my condolesence to Beau’s family. Beau and I used to work for Starwood Reservations & Resorts. We were in the same training class. I was in shock when I passed the corner of 20th st. W & Ave J. coming from church I saw his picture on the pole. I had to get out of the car and look. My heart felt so heavy. I had just seen Beau two weeks ago when I went into Walmart looking for The Madea’s Christmas DVD. Beau and I spoke and I asked him if they had to DVD. He told me, hold on a moment Sabrina, let me help this customer and I’ll be right with you. I told him ok, take your time. He rushed back to help me and we laughed,I said boy, that was quick. He looked for me but it was sold out. He told me to check back, they should be getting some more in. He always was a nice young man, happy, full of joy, very respectible. I will surely miss seeing him when I go into Walmart. The bible says,the good die young. Well he was definitely a good man. I know it hurts the family to let him go but the Lord saw fit to bring him home. He was a joy to work with and his face will always be in a part of my heart. So young to be a victim of this cuel world. I didn’t know the other young man but I would like to give my condolence to his family as well. Two young men lost their lives because of someone with a selfish heart wanted to drive drunk. That is not an excuse to take a person’s life. I’m sorry but the Lord will have his way. I pray that justice will be served. It won’t bring Beau and Jeff back but it might save the live of some other young innocent person. May GOD’S peace and mercy be upon the familie’s of these two wonderful men. I will keep you both in my prayer’s. A good friend…Beau, you will be missed and remembered. Ms. Sabrina

  3. Jasper Guess
    March 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Such a tragic loss…may his memories live on and give his family and friends strenght during these difficult hours….cousin Jasper

  4. March 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I pray for the families that lost someone dear. I pray for us all that we can stop drunk drivers before they kill again. When all seems hopeless all there is left is our Lord. Help us please.

  5. Miko
    March 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    This makes me sad :( I remember seeing Beau all the time at Wal-mart. He even helped take my items from Site to Store to my car. He was a very nice person. May they both Rest In Peace!!!!!

    • Tracy
      March 7, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      I feel like I “live” at Walmart more than my own home and because of this, Beau was that kind, helpful, and familiar face that became what felt like extended family. He had this genuine, caring, warmth about him, and his smile could brighten any day, and I am speaking as someone who didn’t even “know him like that,” and so I can only imagine how his loved ones, friends, family, and co-workers are feeling now. I’m so sorry. I couldn’t believe it when I learned this tragic news, and I still don’t want to believe that it’s true. It was an honor for this community to have someone like Beau in it, and this sudden, tragic, loss pains us all. I did not know Jeffrey, but that doesn’t matter because he was someone’s son….friend…. co-worker….family member…loved one…and a human being. My heart goes out to everyone who feels this loss and you are all in my prayers.

  6. G Donell
    March 2, 2012 at 8:58 am

    My heartfelt prayers go out to the families of both of these youngmen. Such a tragic loss. May the Lord be with you always.

  7. yeci
    March 1, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    i was vendoR for walmar i knew beau personally jeff i din’T BEAU WAS A GREAT GUY I TRULY MISS YOU MY FRIEND

  8. Mary S.
    February 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    My prayers go out to both families. It is always so sad to hear of a drunk driver taken a life or lives. I knew Jeff and it is so sad that his life was shorten this way. Rest in Peace to two wonderful guys, Jeff and Beau.

  9. Bancroft Burke
    February 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    My Beau,

    I have not seen you since you left New York back in 2001. I enjoyed watching you become a fine young man. You certainly will be missed. I had so much fun with you while you were growing up. You had such a pure heart of gold. I look forward to seeing you in heaven.

    Uncle Bancroft

  10. Shawna Clark
    February 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I didn’t know either but, I feel for both families. My prayers and thoughts are with you all.

  11. Brittney Marie
    February 29, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Me and Jeff didnt really hang out much but when we did it was the ebst days of my life. He will be dearly missed by me and thousands of others. Ima miss you jeff </3 T_T

  12. Lizette
    February 29, 2012 at 2:12 am

    It is so sad to hear that these men passed away.
    I shop at the westside Walmart and I’ve seen these men working hard when they were on their shifts.
    Its surreal to know that not long ago I saw them and now they’re gone. :'(
    My prayers go out to the families

  13. linda gilstrap
    February 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I just wanted to say thank you for the prayers and support. It truly warms me to hear all the wonderful things about Jeffrey and Beau. God’s blessings and comfort to all.

    • Mary S.
      February 29, 2012 at 10:36 pm

      So sorry to hear about your loss. My deepest sympathy to you and your family. Jeff was a sweetheart.

    • Eva
      June 2, 2012 at 7:18 am

      My deepest sympathy to you and you youngest son

  14. Melinda aka Lynn
    February 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I shop at the westside walmart often and i work at the eastside and some of our associates there knew Beau … its a tragic event and its sad to hear of anyone dying especially when its senseless… they had full lives ahead of them .. No i didnt know them personally but a loss is a loss and it touches us all .. i will pray for both families … i know its hard and i hope they find strength in their trying times … R I P guys

  15. natasha ruffinelli
    February 28, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    This is really hard to take in because we have lost two great guys and I’m speaking from a costumer point a view Beau would help my husband and I all the time he knew so much about his department you will turly be missed.

  16. Karen
    February 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm


  17. Cherie
    February 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I worked with both boys and although I didn’t know jeff that much is talk to him every now and then in photo. He was always helpful and nice and funny my prayers go out to his family i want to help with what I can. Beau I knew a lil better although not very close he left a lasting impression on my heart. So nice one of the most positive guys I have ever met!! I’d tell him about my daughter and he tell me about his niece he was soo proud of her. I foun out that one of my friends was friends with the drunk driver and although I don’t know him it’s a lil harder to cope with knowing what I know! My prayers are with ur families Jeff and beau u will alway be remembered and never forgotten at 1563

  18. lakasha
    February 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm


  19. Joyce Ashton
    February 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

    My prayers go out to the two families of these fine boys. These two sweet and well loved guys will not be forgotten. Talk about their customer service, outstanding. Customer service was first to customer and very friendly to them. Always can I help you and I’ll be right with you, just give me one moment. They always had a great since of humor and they loved there job. As far as I’m concerned they gave their all and they will be missed dearly. I know your life if better now with God and someday we will all meet again.

  20. heather johnsom
    February 28, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Our prayers go out the family and friends….

  21. Gabriel Bitolas
    February 28, 2012 at 9:18 am

    We lost 2 good hearted associates. You dont really see that kindness in people anymore. Beau & Jeff . . . Fly with the angels . . . 1563 will miss you

  22. yessi
    February 28, 2012 at 7:34 am

    This is so Much better now everyone can know how great they were

  23. Dottie
    February 28, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I drove by and saw the visual as I was heading to CVS. I will definitely keep both families in my prayers. Such young men.

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