Hero Down: Rice University Det. Rommel Espinola Killed

A Rice University police detective was killed in an off-duty on a Texas interstate.

Houston, TX – Rice University Police Detective Rommel Espinola was killed on Apr. 5, when the vehicle he was driving was hit from behind by a speeding motorist, resulting in a multi-vehicle pileup.

Det. Espinola, 48, was traveling northbound on Interstate 45 in a silver Scion at approximately 5:15 p.m., when a gray Kia Soul collided with the back of his vehicle, KIAH reported.

The impact caused Det. Espinola’s vehicle to crash into a white Toyota Camry, which then slammed into a white Ford Edge.

He was rushed to Houston Northwest Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

The unnamed driver of the Kia sustained minor injuries, and no one in any of the other involved vehicles was hurt.

No charges have been filed against the driver who caused the collision, and police did not find any evidence that the driver was intoxicated.

Rice University Police Chief James Tate said that Det. Espinola’s death has been “an enormous loss” for both his family, and for the department.

“Rommel was respected and loved by his fellow officers,” Chief Tate said in a statement. “We miss him already.”

Det. Espinola worked as a teacher before he joined the Lone Star College Police Department, where he served four years.

He had been with the Rice University Police Department (RUPD) for nine years.

Det. Espinola was a master police officer, firearms instructor, dignitary protection officer, and forensic technician during his time with the department.

His tragic death came just months after his wife, Shawn, succumbed to a lengthy illness, KPRC reported.

"She was very sick for a while,” Det. Espinola’s cousin, Omar Espinola, said. “He was just a great husband. Perfect example of what a husband should do – stand by his wife.”

The couple leaves behind a nine-year-old son, Cullen.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Rice University Police Detective Rommel Espinola, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

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RIP Officer