NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - A minor traffic accident turned deadly for a police officer in North St. Louis County Monday morning. She became the first officer from Bellefontaine Neighbors to die in the line of duty since the community was founded 65 years ago.
People said Sgt. Peggy Vassallo was so much more than a police officer; she touched the lives of thousands of people.
Witnesses were stunned by what they saw at Lindbergh and Old Jamestown Road. Sgt. Peggy Vassallo was riding in her Jeep on her way to work when she was involved in minor car accident with a Kia. When Vassallo got out to check the other driver’s welfare police say Vassallo was hit by a Ford Fusion that was traveling at a high rate of speed. Sgt. Vassallo died a few hours later at the hospital.
Bellefontaine Neighbors Mayor Bob Doerr said, “She lived to help others that is all she ever did.”
At city hall crews put up black bunting to honor the much loved officer. Sgt. Vassallo would help people get social services, she took part in Special Olympics and was a volunteer baseball coach and she helped people get their utilities reconnected or find a home. She was a DARE officer at public and private schools in the area, including Grace Lutheran where Reverend Nathan Ruback ministers, “She gave it all to kids, her community and loved her. Kids were her life.”
In the neighborhood where the she lived residents remember what a giving person she was. Neighbor Gerry Bumb said, “When I needed anything she was there, when my husband died they brought food to the funeral home and everything they were here for me all the time.”
Peggy Vassallo served 14 years on the Bellefontaine Neighbors police force and before that several years with St. Louis County. Her passing will be felt by countless people. Police Chief Jeremy Ihler said, “She did such an array of things to help people this loss is not only catastrophic to the city and police department but to the community she has served and the lives she has touched.”
Mayor Doerr added, “We truly miss this wonderful person.”
Police said the driver of the car that hit her has been cooperative. It’s speculated that the driver possibly swerved to avoid the accident when she hit Sgt. Vassallo. It will be weeks before we know if that person is charged.
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger released this statement about the fatal crash:
“I offer my condolences to Sergeant Peggy Vassallo’s family, friends, and co-workers. Sgt. Vassallo was a faithful and trusted servant of the Bellefontaine Neighbors community and our county. She dutifully followed her oath to serve and protect. Sgt. Vassallo’s dedication and professionalism will be missed.
My prayers are for the Vassallo family to remain strong during this most difficult time. Thank you to everyone who is cooperating in the investigation of this tragic loss.”