Jessica Ebbighausen car crash: 19 year-old Rutland city police officer dies in on-duty accident

Jessica Ebbighausen died in a car crash. (Source: Facebook)
Jessica Ebbighausen died in a car crash. (Source: Facebook)


Investigations continue into the fatal collision on Friday that took the life of Jessica Ebbighausen, an officer of the Rutland City Police Department. Keep reading to know more about the Jessica Ebbighausen car crash in detail.


What happened?

According to the Vermont State Police, Tate Rheaume, 20, was reported as trying to break into a house on East Washington Street at 2:30 p.m., and that triggered the series of events that eventually led to the collision. In a pickup truck, Rheaume escaped the area.

From East Washington Street to Stratton Road at the intersection with Woodstock Avenue, Rutland police pursued him for less than two miles.

Rheaume struck Ebbighausen’s cruiser, which was responding to the call from the opposite way, when he crossed the centre line and turned onto Route 4. A supervisory full-time officer was in the passenger seat and she was driving.

The truck driven by Rheaume also struck another cruiser. All three cars suffered severe damage.

On the spot, Ebbighausen was declared dead. The Vermont State Police and the Rutland Police Department escorted her body as it was taken to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington for an autopsy.

The collision injured Rheaume and the other two Rutland police officers. The three were all taken to Rutland Regional Medical Centre. Officer Ebbighausen’s passenger, a police officer, is currently receiving medical attention for his injuries. The cop driving the second eastbound cruiser was treated and then released.

Rheaume was relocated to the University of Vermont Medical Centre in Burlington. Their wounds are not thought to be life-threatening.

Who was Jessica Ebbighausen?

According to the authorities, at about 3 p.m. on U.S. Route 4, also known as Woodstock Avenue, Ofc. Jessica Ebbighausen, 19, of Ira, died in a head-on collision.

Ebbighausen joined the department in May, and she and another recent hire Arun Dangal were introduced before the Board of Aldermen last month.

She was a level 2 trained officer, and the Vermont Police Academy had scheduled her to start full-time training in August.

During a press conference held at the Rutland City Police Department on Friday night, Lt. Col. Jim Whitcomb of the Vermont State Police said,

“She had a long and bright career ahead of her.”

According to Chief Brian Kilcullen, She finished an internship with the department two years ago while still a high school student, and had always known she wanted to work with the police.

Next month, she was supposed to start her full-time cop training at the Vermont Police Academy.

Brian Kilcullen expressed his appreciation for the level of community support that his department was receiving.

Kilcullen said that the trauma of incidents like the ones this week—which also included a shooting in Giorgetti Park where an officer fatally shot a man who was allegedly driving towards him—affected not only the officers on the scene but also the dispatchers who had to watch the events unfold without being able to intervene.

He added that Robert Ebbighausen’s granddaughter, Ebbighausen, had aspired to be a police officer since she was nine years old and had completed an internship with the department while she was a high school student.

Kilcullen said during a press conference Friday night,

“I think it’s more important now than ever to ask for the support of the community. We’re hurting. I think with the events of this week, I think you can probably imagine that it’s not an easy job,”

“A young woman, who for years, longed to be a police officer. Since she was nine years old. It’s all she wanted to be.”

She always had a smile on her face,”

“We were looking forward to having her as part of our family.”

Kilcullen has claimed that the agency recently modified its procedures to forbid high-speed chases, but he dodged questions on the matter on Friday.

In more than 20 years, Ebbinghausen is the only Vermont law enforcement official to die in the course of duty in a collision.


Police Investigation:

The State Police are investigating into how speed and intoxication contributed to the collision.

Chief Brian Kilcullen reported that the two officers engaged in the incident at Giorgetti Park had not yet reported back to work.

On possible charges against Rheaume, investigators are working together with Rutland County State’s Attorney Ian Sullivan.

Kilcullen said,

“I’m here today to mourn, really, the loss of a family member.”

“The state police are conducting the investigation. At some point, we’ll review everything.”

According to Whitcomb, the incident may have been caused by speeding and drug usage. He stated that he was unaware of any active criminal investigations involving Rheaume or the potential charges that he might be facing as a result of the incident.

Whitcomb stated that for at least the next 12 hours, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Vermont State Police will be the primary law enforcement agencies in the city.

Ebbighausen’s body was taken by a queue of police cars to the Burlington medical examiner. Along Route 7, from Rutland to Burlington, first responders showed respect to the deceased officer.

The Shelburne Fire, Police, and Rescue Departments honour the deceased officer as her body is escorted by police cars along Route 7 from Rutland to Burlington. (Source:
Image Description The Shelburne Fire, Police, and Rescue Departments honour the deceased officer as her body is escorted by police cars along Route 7 from Rutland to Burlington. (Source:


Authorities are currently looking into Ebbighausen’s death circumstances, which are yet unclear. The news has obviously crushed Ebbighausen’s family and friends, and the community has been horrified by the tragic loss.


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