A 19-year-old Vermont police officer who died in a head-on collision with a burglary suspect she was pursuing was remembered Tuesday as a young woman who was passionate about law enforcement and public service and was devoted to her family.

More than 1,000 people, including Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and hundreds of law enforcement officers from across New England and New York, attended the funeral service for Jessica Ebbighausen. She was hired in May as a part-time police officer in Rutland. She died July 7.

Officer Killed Vermont

Rutland City Police Officer Jessica Ebbighausen. Vermont State Police via AP, File

“We don’t see a lot of young people that want to do this job anymore, but Jessica did,” said Rutland Sgt. Heath Plemmons, addressing the crowd at the Vermont State University campus in Castleton. “She prepared herself. She put in a lot of effort. It was her dream.

“Jessica died a hero that day,” said Plemmons, who was her supervisor. “She saved lives. She went towards the danger instead of going the other way.”

According to police, the suspect, identified as Tate Rheaume, 20, was being chased by officers when his pickup truck crossed the center line and collided with a cruiser being driven by Ebbighausen. She was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the cruiser. Ebbighausen was pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck also hit another police cruiser. Two other officers and Rheaume were injured.


Rheaume pleaded innocent on July 10 to charges of negligent operation of a motor vehicle and attempting to elude police, both with death resulting. He told investigators he didn’t pull over before the crash because getting arrested would hurt his chances of joining the Marines, according to court documents. A judge ordered him held on $100,000 bail.

Ebbighausen’s uncle said his niece carried an “unmatched” spark of positivity and goodwill.

“She was endearing, good-natured, and her sense of humor was unmatched,” Troy Ebbighausen said. “She had the uncanny ability to bring people together.”

According to her obituary, Ebbighausen graduated from Rutland High School in 2021, where she played field hockey, completed a school public safety and criminal justice program, and interned with the Rutland Police Department.

Ebbighausen was scheduled to start training in August at the Vermont Police Academy to become a full-time officer, police said. She had worked as a security officer at the Rutland Regional Medical Center until she was hired by the department.

Before Ebbighausen’s death, 28 Vermont officers had died in the line of duty, including two in vehicle pursuits, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks law enforcement deaths. Of those Vermont officers whose ages are listed, she was by far the youngest.

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