Vermont State Police identifies officer, provides additional information on fatal car crash involving member of Rutland City Police Department
The investigation into a July 8 fatal crash that killed a Rutland City Police Department officer remains active and ongoing tonight. Numerous law-enforcement resources have been brought to bear on this complex case.
The officer who died is identified as Jessica Ebbighausen, 19, of Ira. She started working with the Rutland Police Department on May 23 as a part-time, Level 2-certified officer. She was slated to begin training at the Vermont Police Academy next month to become a full-time officer.
The chain of events that led to Officer Ebbighausen’s death began at 2:35 p.m. with a call to police that a man named Tate Rheaume, 20, was attempting a break-in at a residence on East Washington Street. Rutland police units began responding to the scene, where the first officer encountered Mr. Rheaume’s vehicle. At 2:51 p.m., the vehicle fled the scene, and the officer pursued it.
The pursuit continued from East Washington Street to Stratton Road to the intersection with Woodstock Avenue, also known as U.S. Route 4. Mr. Rheaume turned west on Woodstock Avenue. At the same time, additional Rutland police units were responding to the area to assist. One of these cruisers was driven by Officer Ebbighausen, with a supervising full-time officer in the passenger seat. This cruiser, accompanied by a second Rutland police cruiser, was traveling east on Woodstock Avenue.
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. Mr. Rheaume’s truck then struck the second eastbound Rutland police cruiser. The pursuing cruiser was not involved in the collision.
The collision occurred at 2:53 p.m. The pursuit covered a distance of slightly less than two miles.
Officer Ebbighausen was pronounced dead at the scene. Her body, under an escort provided by the Rutland Police Department and the Vermont State Police, was brought this evening to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington for an autopsy.
The two other Rutland officers and Mr. Rheaume were injured. All three initially were transported to Rutland Regional Medical Center for treatment of various injuries. The officer who was accompanying Officer Ebbighausen remains hospitalized. The officer who was driving the second eastbound cruiser was treated and released. Mr. Rheaume was transferred to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
The Vermont State Police is investigating the role that both impairment and speed played in the crash. Investigators are working with Rutland County State’s Attorney Ian Sullivan on potential charges.
State police provided numerous resources to this investigation, including the Crash Reconstruction Team, the Crime Scene Search Team, troopers from the Field Force Division, and detectives with the Criminal Division.
At the request of Rutland Police Chief Brian Kilcullen, the Vermont State Police and the Department of Fish & Wildlife will be providing primary law-enforcement coverage for the city for at least the next 12 hours.
The Rutland Town Police Department, the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department, the Rutland Fire Department, and an investigator with the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery provided assistance.
The Vermont State Police will identify the other officers involved in this incident and provide additional information as the investigation continues.