A longtime area Realtor died after a police cruiser pursuing a vehicle theft suspect at speeds of up to 80 mph while heading toward the Dayton Mall struck her car on Tuesday, according to police.
Mary Taulbee, 57, of Lebanon, was driving a vehicle struck by the cruiser of Matt Barrie, Moraine’s 2017 Officer of the Year. That crash happened on Ohio 741 near Carnation Road Tuesday evening in Miami Twp. in what the police chief termed “a horrible, tragic incident.”
Barrie’s cruiser collided with Taulbee’s car after it spun into the southbound lane while the Moraine officer chased an 18-year-old car theft suspect, Moraine Police Chief Craig Richardson said. A driver trying to avoid the southbound pursuit struck Taulbee’s vehicle and caused it to move into the southbound lanes, he said.
Taulbee — who worked in Dayton, Englewood, Miamisburg and Springboro — died after the second Moraine high-speed pursuit of a suspect on Ohio 741 in three days.
Barrie “was within policy” in pursuing suspect Alyssa Irwin Debraux, who was arrested after crashing the Jeep she was driving on Ohio 741 near the Dayton Mall.
“A stolen car is a felony,” Richardson said. “But she compounded a less serious crime by their actions, and it cost somebody (her) life.”
One public safety and law professional said those local pursuit policies “have to strike a balance” to maintain public safety while enforcing the law.
“On one hand, you want to protect the safety of the public from the potential consequences of a chase,” said Tom Hagel, professor emeritus at the University of Dayton School of Law. “But you also don’t want to see dangerous criminals get away.”
Police pursuits have garnered statewide attention in recent years. At least 352 people, including one peace officer and 147 bystanders, were killed in law enforcement pursuits in Ohio between 1982 and 2014, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued a report in 2016, because he was “concerned by the deaths that have resulted from law enforcement vehicle pursuits,” state records show.
The pursuit began after Montgomery County Regional Dispatch contacted Moraine police about 6 p.m. Tuesday about a vehicle in the city that was stolen out of Harrison Twp., Richardson said.
Barrie located the Jeep and attempted to conduct a traffic stop just south of the Ohio 741/Dixie Drive in the city limits, but the driver fled south, Richardson said.
Barrie received permission from the MPD’s road sergeant to pursue the Jeep and communicated his speed first at 65 mph and then 80 mph, Richardson said.
About that time, Taulbee’s car was northbound on Ohio 741 near Carnation Road when a car near hers “changed lanes abruptly,” according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
The other vehicle hit Taulbee’s car and sent it spinning out of control into the path of the Moraine cruiser, the state patrol said.
Richardson said the initial call from dispatch came in about 6 p.m. The wreck involving the cruiser and Taulbee happened about 6:24 p.m., according to the state patrol.
A Miami Twp. resident who saw the aftermath said Barrie got out of the cruiser and was “disoriented.”
“I ran out of the house as soon as I heard” the crash, said Spencer Schotz. “I was at the car before the officer got out of his car. He was kind of shook up, disoriented when he got up to the car.”
Schotz said Taulbee appeared motionless when he arrived.
“The car was crumpled,” he said. “I ran over to the other side. Everybody else was getting out of their cars and running over to the scene. You could tell that the woman … there was something wrong.”
Barrie is a four-year member of the Moraine Police Division, Richardson said. In 2017, he was named Officer of the Year. He works as a night patrol officer.
Richardson said Barrie suffered minor injuries and has not yet been cleared to return to work.
Barrie “is obviously upset,” Richardson said. “We’re here to protect the public, serve the community. It’s a horrible tragic incident.”
Richardson said he wanted to “express our heartfelt condolences to the Taulbee family. It’s a tragedy, a horrible tragedy.”
He said the department contacted Taulbee’s family Wednesday morning to offer them “any help that we could.”.
Taulbee was a Realtor of 30 years in the Dayton, Englewood, Lebanon, Miamisburg and Springboro areas, according to her profile on Realtor.com.
She worked in the Irongate Realtors office at 1353 Lyons Road in Washington Twp., that office confirmed.
“I’ve been in real estate for 42 years,” said Steve Brown, Irongate’s president of that office. “I don’t think I’ve ever gone through a day — an evening and now (Wednesday) — like I’ve gone through since we heard the news about Mary’s death.
“She was one of the finest Realtors, not only in our company, but certainly in our industry.”
Debraux, the vehicle theft suspect, has not been formally charged, Richardson said. But she could face “a slew of charges,” including vehicular homicide and manslaughter, he said.
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