A Cowden, Ill., police officer was killed Tuesday night while chasing a vehicle in Effingham County, Ill., police said.
A passenger in the vehicle, Jessica Stuckemeyer, 22, was treated for injuries and released from Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Cowden Mayor Lorne Barnes said Stuckemeyer was doing a ride-along to gain experience in preparation for entering the police academy.
Illinois State Police is investigating but has not released the officer's name. Barnes, however, identified him as Jeremy Hubbard, 35, of Effingham.
Hubbard crashed about 8:15 p.m. on North First Street, about a mile south of the junction of U.S. 40 and Illinois 128, police said. He lost control of his squad car and was ejected as the car flipped several times into a cornfield. Hubbard was pronounced dead at Greenville Regional Hospital in Bond County.
Police have released no additional information about the crash, but Barnes said officers were assisting another police department stopping a red Dodge pickup truck wanted for driving without license plates.
Barnes said Hubbard crashed at least 15 miles south of Cowden and that the suspect escaped. Barnes did not know why Hubbard had traveled that far outside Cowden village limits.
Hubbard was a part-time officer who was married with two young children, Barnes said. Hubbard also worked for a truck sales company in Effingham.
Hubbard had served Cowden's police department for three to four years, Barnes said. Cowden, a village of about 600 people about 100 miles northeast of St. Louis, has a part-time police force: Hubbard and one other officer.
"He was a top-notch police officer," Barnes said. "He was very polite. He was very quiet, but when he talked, people understood. That's one thing I really liked about him, how well he conducted himself. I would put him up against anybody."
His wife, Trisha Hubbard, said her husband loved being a police officer so that he could help people. His goal was to become a full-time officer.
She said she was told her husband started chasing the pickup after it ran a stop sign and had no plates.
"He died doing what he loved to do," said Trisha Hubbard, 35. "He lived it. He loved it."
Trisha and Jeremy Hubbard met in high school and dated for eight years before gettting married. Two sons, Dylan, 13, and Jordan, 8, survive.
"Their dad was everything to them," she said.
Before his shift Tuesday, Trisha Hubbard said she and her husband hugged and said they loved each other. She said she knew the dangers of police work but thought he would be OK.
"It's a small town so I thought he would be safe," she said.
Funeral arrangements were pending Wednesday.
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