Officer Mark Taulbee (Source: LaRue County Herald News)
HODGENVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Services have been set for a Hodgenville police officer who died in the line of duty.
Officer Mark Taulbee, 44, had been a long-time law enforcement officer in Eastern Kentucky before moving to Hodgenville a little more than a year ago.
Despite being at the department a short time, the chief said Officer Taulbee had a lasting impact on the police force.
"Just like family. It's really hard," said Hodgenville Police Chief Steve Johnson. "We're very tight and it's been a shock to all of us."
The police department of five now prepares to say goodbye to one of its own.
"I am thinking this is the only officer we've ever lost in the line of duty," Johnson said.
A makeshift memorial of crosses can be found where the crash happened.
Taulbee was chasing a suspect around 3:00 Saturday morning. Police said Jason Avis, 29, had stolen a car and threatened his ex-wife.
In the midst of the case, another call came into 911. "A lady said a police car had wrecked in front of her house and the officer was laying outside the vehicle," Johnson said.
Taulbee was rushed to a hospital. "His wife was working at Hardin Memorial hospital when he arrived. She's an x-ray technician," Johnson said.
It's believed that's the last time she saw him. He was then rushed to University of Louisville Hospital.
"My understanding was that he was on his way to surgery or to x-rays and his heart stopped. They did CPR but were unable to bring him back," Johnson said.
Johnson said his phone has been ringing non-stop with calls from across the country, offering support.
"Hopkinsville and Elizabethtown are going to send officers over to work the city so all my units can go to his funeral. I guess that's what's hitting us so hard. It's the suddenness of it. It's just hard," Johnson said.
Services for Officer Taulbee will be held at the Hodgenville Civic Center. Visitation is set for Thursday from 3 to 8 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. to noon. The funeral will begin at noon on Friday.
The officer leaves behind a wife, a 20-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son.
Jason Avis turned himself into the LaRue Jail late Sunday morning. He is charged with wanton endangerment and fleeing or evading police. His criminal past includes burglary and other charges.
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