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Sign honoring Ruby Rainault unveiled

Deputy Sheriff died in a traffic accident 10 years ago.

A large sign honoring Deputy Sheriff Ruby Rainault, killed while on duty 10 years ago, is unveiled in Lunenburg last week. Photo by Art McGrath. (click for larger version)
December 04, 2013
LUNENBURG, Vt.– Judging by the passion of those who turned out last Wednesday to mark the 10th anniversary of her death and dedicate a sign in her honor, Ruby Rainault is not forgotten.

Rainault died Nov. 24, 2003 at the age of 54 while on patrol in Lunenburg as an Essex County Deputy Sheriff. Her cruiser was making a U turn when it was hit by a tractor-trailer truck on Thurston Flats, near the site where the large sign was unveiled last week.

A steady, driving rain was falling and visibility was poor on Route 2 as guests waited in a tent while officers uncovered the large sign, which dwarfed the Essex County Sheriff's Department cruiser parked underneath. Among those present last week were her husband, Gil Rainault, who still serves as an Essex County Sheriff's Deputy, their daughter Kelly Rainault and former Essex County Sheriff Amos Colby, who was Ruby's supervisor. Most of those present did not reflect on the pain of that day 10 years ago but rather on how Ruby strove every day to make Essex County a safer place, always making safety and seatbelt checks on vehicles.

Fighting back tears, her daughter Kelly did reflect on the shock and pain of that day. She was a senior in high school when the accident happened and like most teenagers said that she had been anxious to leave home. Looking back she said she wished with all her heart to have Ruby back.

"I didn't realize how much she meant to people until that day," Kelly said.

Her husband, Gil, stood in uniform before the crowd of law enforcement officers, friends and family and thanked them for coming. He said Ruby was especially remembered for checking on children to make sure they were properly secured in their vehicles. He chuckled and said he thought current Essex County Sheriff Trevor Colby's plan to get a sign up so quickly was ambitious when the idea was presented to him a month before but it happened in record time.

Smiling Colby said the sign was not a billboard—which are banned in Vermont—but a memorial. Colby said the idea of the sign was to remind people that seatbelts and helmets are required in Vermont—and to actually remind people they were in Vermont. Lunenburg is not far from the New Hampshire border and many people don't realize they've crossed a state line, he said, a state that requires seatbelts and helmets, unlike New Hampshire. While the sign is in Ruby's memory, it does not dwell on her death but rather on safety, which is her legacy. Possibly because of its proximity to New Hampshire, Essex County has one of the lowest rates of seatbelt compliance in the state, Colby said. He would like to change that, he said.

Keith Flynn, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety noted that there have been 60 traffic fatalities in Vermont this year. Of those, over one third of them—23— were not wearing seatbelts.

"That is unacceptable," Flynn said. "That is 23 people who might have had a chance to live." The sign will remind them of that chance.

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