Rice University officer killed in fatal crash on north freeway, police say

HOUSTON— The Houston Police Department is investigating after a Rice University officer was killed in a car crash Thursday.

Rice University has identified the officer as nine-year veteran Rommel Espinola, 48.

Espinola was travelling northbound on North Interstate Highway 45 when a gray Kia Soul struck him from him from behind. Espinola’s silver Scion crashed into a white Toyota Camry that was sent crashing into a white Ford Edge.

Espinola was taken to Houston Northwest Medical Center were he later died.

The driver of the Kia Soul received minor injuries. The driver’s of the Toyota Camry and Ford Edge were not injured.

Police examined the driver of the Kia Soul but found no signs of intoxication.  No charges has been filed at this time.

Rice University released a statement that read in part:

“This is an enormous loss for the Espinola family and for the RUPD family,” said Rice Police Chief James Tate. “Rommel was respected and loved by his fellow officers. We miss him already.” The Rice University Police Department is supporting the Espinola family in this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they deal with this tragedy.”

Espinola was a graduate of Klein High School and Sam Houston State University and worked as a teacher before becoming a police officer.

He served four years with the Lone Star College Police Department prior to joining RUPD.

His many law enforcement certifications included master peace officer, field training officer, firearms instructor, dignitary protection and forensic technician.

Espinola is survived by a 9-year-old son.