ST. LOUIS COUNTY — People in the Bellfontaine Neighbors community are mourning the loss of a beloved police officer.
“We grieve with her family and friends, her fellow officers and the countless lives she made a difference for,” said Mayor Bob Doerr.
According to St. Louis County Police, Vassallo was driving her personal car to work around 8 a.m. when she was involved in a minor traffic accident with one other vehicle at the intersection of Old Jamestown Road and Highway 67.
When Vassallo exited her vehicle to talk to the other driver, she was hit by a third vehicle.
Vassallo was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, where she later died.
The driver involved is cooperating with police. No one else was hurt.
An investigation is underway.
It happened at the intersection of Old Jamestown Rd. and Highway 67.
“There was a vehicle that was coming up from behind them at a high rate of speed. Before the driver could react, Sgt. Vassallo was run over by the car,” Bellfontaine Neighbors Police Chief Jeremy Ihler said.
Paramedics rushed the seasoned officer to the hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.
Ihler said Vassallo is the first officer the department has lost in the line of duty since it was incorporated in 1950.
“It is considered an ‘in the line of duty’ death because she was responding and acting as a law enforcement officer when she started rendering medical aid,” Ihler said.
Sgt. Vassallo spent 14 years with the department in many different capacities.
Vassallo was known as a compassionate, hard working officer who was dedicated to making a difference in North St. Louis County.
She was a DARE instructor in the Riverview Gardens School District at Danforth Elementary and Gibson Elementary. She was also part of the neighborhood watch in Bellefontaine Neighbors. School leaders say she will be missed.
They plan to send students home with students tomorrow to make them aware of this tragic loss.
Rev. Nathan Ruback remembered Vassallo for her dedicated service to others.
“It’ll be a huge hole that I don’t even know if there will be someone to fill,” he said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Police have not said if the driver who hit Vassallo will face charges.
She leaves behind a large family, Doeer said, including children and grandchildren.