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Hero Down: Rutland Police Officer Jessica Ebbighausen Killed By Suspect In High-Speed Chase

Rutland, VT – Rutland Police Department (RPD) Officer Jessica Ebbighausen died in the line of duty on July 7 after a fleeing suspect crashed head-on into her patrol car, according to investigators.

The incident began at approximately 2:35 p.m. on July 7 when the Rutland Police Department (RPD) received a report that 20-year-old Tate Rheaume was trying to break into a house on East Washington Street, the VTDigger reported.

Rutland Police Department (RPD) Officer Jared Dumas arrived at the scene first and spotted the suspect’s vehicle, according to police.

Rheaume then sped off, leading to a pursuit.

As Officer Dumas chased Rheaume from East Washington Street to the intersection of Stratton Road and Woodstock Avenue, 19-year-old Officer Ebbighausen and her training officer, RPD Officer Richard Caravaggio, responded from the opposite direction to assist, the VTDigger reported.

Officer Ebbighausen was driving the patrol car and her supervisor was in the passenger seat, according to the Vermont State Police (VSP).

VSP Lieutenant Colonel Jim Whitcomb said Rheaume crossed over the centerline and crashed into the patrol car head-on, the Rutland Herald reported.

The collision occurred at 2:53 p.m., VTDigger reported.

“Evidence gathered at the scene indicates that Mr. Rheaume crossed the center line into the eastbound lanes and collided with Officer Ebbighausen’s cruiser, causing catastrophic damage to both vehicles,” the VSP said.

The suspect then crashed into a second oncoming RPD vehicle being driven by Officer Kelsey Parker, VTDigger reported.

Officer Dumas avoided the collision.

Officer Ebbighausen was pronounced dead at the scene, the Rutland Herald reported.

An autopsy revealed she died from blunt force trauma, according to the VTDigger.

Officer Caravaggio, Officer Parker, and Rheaume were all transported to Rutland Regional Medical Center.

Officer Parker was treated and released shortly after her arrival, and Officer Caravaggio was released on Saturday to continue his recovery at home, VTDigger reported.

Rheaume was transferred to a hospital in Burlington in serious but stable condition.

He has been charged with grossly negligent operation of a motor vehicle resulting in death and attempting to elude resulting in death, VTDigger reported.

Additional charges may be forthcoming.

Lt. Col. Whitcomb said substance abuse and speed are being considered as potential factors in the deadly crash, according to the Rutland Herald.

The VSP are handling the ongoing investigation.

Officer Ebbighausen just joined the RPD as a part-time officer on May 23.

She was planning to begin training at the Vermont Police Academy in August in order to become a full-time officer, VTDigger reported.

“She had a long and bright career ahead of her,” Lt. Col. Whitcomb told the Rutland Herald.

Officer Ebbighausen is the granddaughter of former RPD Commission Chairman Robert Ebbighausen.

She had aspired to become a law enforcement officer since she was just nine years old, RPD Chief Brian Kilcullen told the Rutland Herald.

Officer Ebbighausen also completed an internship with the RPD while she was in high school.

“She always had a smile on her face,” Chief Kilcullen told the Rutland Herald. “We were looking forward to having her as part of our family.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Rutland Police Department Officer Jessica Ebbighausen, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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