Honoring the legacy of a dedicated Vt. public servant - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Honoring the legacy of a dedicated Vt. public servant

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On a rain-soaked Wednesday, a sign was unveiled on Route 2 in Lunenburg. It tells motorists to enjoy Vermont's beauty and reminds them of a woman who dedicated her life to protecting others.

"Because she died doing occupant protection work, seat belt safety work, we really wanted to honor that. And so the sign came about as an idea to pay tribute to her," Essex County Sheriff Trevor Colby explained.

Essex County Sheriff's Deputy Ruby Rainault was killed in 2003 while conducting seat belt checks. The 54-year-old was making a U-turn when her cruiser was hit by a truck. Ten years later, colleagues from across the state turned out to honor her commitment to put safety first. Her friends and family were also there.

"It means that my mother was well-loved and well-liked and that everybody respected the work that my mother really did," daughter Amanda Rainault said.

"It's not just to dedicate things to Ruby; it's about public safety and enjoying Vermont's beauty. And I think she would be happy, but I also think she would be laughing about this whole thing, because here we all are standing in the rain and remembering her in different ways," said Gilbert Rainault, her husband.

The day was also a chance to focus on safety, something first responders say Vermont needs to work on, especially when it comes to buckling up.

"How we can get better to break that wall that we have come up against. How we can move beyond that 85 percent compliance rate," Vt. Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said.

And Flynn says fastening a seat belt can saves lives. So far this year, there have been 60 highways fatalities in Vermont. In at least one-third of them, the victim was not buckled up.

"We cannot force people to take action. We cannot force people to buckle up. But what we can do is to provide people the information to get them to make better decisions," Flynn said.

Officials say more needs to be done to improve compliance and this sign can help, while honoring the legacy of a dedicated public servant.

Rainault is the first and only female Vermont law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty. Every year, the Governor's Highway Safety Occupant Protection Award is given out in her name.

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