Sergeant Peggy Vassallo Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department, Missouri End of Watch: Monday, August 24, 2015

Sergeant Peggy Vassallo | Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department, MissouriNew_BN_patch_1

 

Sergeant Peggy Vassallo

Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department, Missouri
End of Watch: Monday, August 24, 2015

Biographical Info

Age: 53
Tour of Duty: 29 years
Badge Number: 182

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Struck by vehicle
Date of Incident: August 24, 2015
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available

Agency Contact Information

Chief Jeremy Ihler
Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department
9641 Bellefontaine Road
St. Louis, MO 63137
Phone: (314) 867-0080

Sergeant Peggy Vassallo was struck and killed by a vehicle while rendering aid to another driver after being involved in an accident shortly before 8:00 am.
Sergeant Vassallo, who was in full uniform, was en route to work when she was involved in a two vehicle crash at the intersection of Lindbergh Blvd and Old Jamestown Rd, in St. Louis County. The other driver was complaining of neck pain, prompting Sergeant Vassallo to contact dispatchers to request medical assistance.
As she was speaking to dispatchers another vehicle entered the area at a high rate of speed. The vehicle swerved around Sergeant Vassallo’s car and struck her, causing critical injuries. She was transported to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries several hours later.
Sergeant Vassallo had served with the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department for 15 years and had previously served with the St. Louis County Police Department for over 13 years. She is survived by her husband, son, and two grandchildren. Sergeant Vassallo was a member of the Police Unity Tour.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY Peggy Vassallo’s prelude to police work came in 1974 when she and her father were scavenging for a Christmas tree on the Desloge family estate near Florissant and discovered the skeletal remains of two murdered Radio Shack workers abducted six weeks before.

She was Peggy Kaelin then, just 13 years old and the daughter of a longtime St. Louis police lieutenant, Edwin J. Kaelin. Decades later, as a Bellefontaine Neighbors police sergeant, she told people the gruesome discovery in the still-unsolved murders led her to a career in law enforcement.

“She said, ‘That’s when I knew I wanted to be a police officer,’” said Gregory Warnusz, 68, a Bellefontaine Neighbors resident and police chaplain who had chatted with Vassallo at a recent neighborhood night out.

Vassallo, 53, died Monday after being struck by a car on her way to work. She was in uniform and was driving her Jeep Cherokee when she rear-ended a Kia Amanti on eastbound Lindbergh Boulevard just west of Old Jamestown Road near the defunct Jamestown Mall. The collision caused minor damage.

Vassallo got out of her Jeep to check on the woman in the Kia and approached the Kia’s passenger side. Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Chief Jeremy Ihler said Vassallo called for an ambulance because the woman complained of neck injuries.

She was talking with dispatchers when an eastbound Ford Fusion swerved around the stopped vehicles and struck Vassallo. The impact caved in the Fusion’s windshield and knocked off one of Vassallo’s shoes.

Police believe the driver of the Fusion tried to avoid Vassallo but was going too fast to stop. Vassallo was pronounced dead at DePaul Health Center about 11:30 a.m.

The women driving the Amanti and Fusion stayed at the crash scene and were cooperating with investigators. St. Louis County police withheld their identities.

Vassallo was the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department’s community relations officer, served as a DARE officer at several schools and oversaw the neighborhood watch program. She’d been with the department about 15 years and became a sergeant in December 2011. She was with the St. Louis County Police Department for about 13 years before joining Bellefontaine Neighbors.

Vassallo also coached youth baseball with the Matthews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club, rode in the “Police Unity” bike tour in May and helped launch Bellefontaine Neighbors’ first youth skills and sports camp this summer. Vassallo also helped find housing for homeless people and resources for those needing help paying utility bills.

“She did such an array of things that this loss is catastrophic not only to the city and police department, but to the community she served and all the lives she has touched,” Ihler said.

Bellefontaine Neighbors Mayor Robert J. Doerr said Vassallo’s position as a community relations officer was not a job to her, but a “ministry.” “She lived to help others,” he said.

Vassallo was the second-youngest of 10 siblings. In addition to her father, two of her brothers were city police officers. She was married with one son, 34, and had two granddaughters, 8 and 10 years old.

“We could always count on her,” said her sister, Patricia Kaelin, 66. “She was a very caring person and felt she was doing all she could to help people.”

Bellefontaine Neighbors police said they are counting her death as a “line of duty death” so that her family can receive death benefits. Ihler said Vassallo went on duty the moment she summoned medical treatment for the driver she rear-ended. BackStoppers has also pledged support for her family.

Kim Bell and Tim O’Neil of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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2 Responses to “Sergeant Peggy Vassallo Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department, Missouri End of Watch: Monday, August 24, 2015”


  1. 1 Adolph C. Namlik, Chief of Police, Ret. September 1, 2015 at 20:51

    My sincere condolences and prayers go out to the family and fellow officers of Sergeant Peggy of the Vassallo Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department.

    Respectfully,
    Adolph C. Namlik
    Chief of Police, Ret.
    Gowanda, N.Y.

  2. 2 Adolph C. Namlik, Chief of Police, Ret. September 1, 2015 at 20:53

    CORRECTION : My sincere condolences and prayers go out to the family and fellow officers of Sergeant Peggy Vassallo of the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department.

    Respectfully,
    Adolph C. Namlik
    Chief of Police, Ret.
    Gowanda, N.Y.


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