Lauren Rice, aged 38, IA. April 05, 2020

Lauren Rice was walking her dog on a sidewalk in the 1700 block of Beaver Avenue, Des Moines, IA, at around 8:13pm on April 05, 2020, when the driver of a speeding truck left the road, hit her and then fled the scene.

Lauren Rice, with her dog Holiday (Submitted photo).

According to police, the driver was 49-year-old Jason Sassman whose truck reportedly left the roadway then struck and severed a utility pole. The vehicle continued through residential yards and onto the sidewalk, before hitting Ms. Rice and her dog Holiday.

Both Ms. Rice and the dog sadly died at the scene.

Sassman fled the scene on foot but was subsequently arrested nearby without incident.

According to the Legal Advocate, the complaint filed against Sassman said, the “Defendant did willfully, deliberately and with premeditation kill Lauren Rice by running her over with a motor vehicle.” The suspect faces charges of first degree murder and animal neglect. He is being held in the Polk County Jail on a bond of $1 million.

According to the People website, Ms. Rice taught English and literature at Des Moines Area Community College’s Newton campus after teaching at the Ankeny campus earlier in her career. She also helped lead the college’s annual Celebration of Literary Arts Festival, hosting events with notable authors.

She had served as a coordinator of the college’s study abroad program, and recently returned from London — a trip interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lauren Rice, front left, with her group from the Des Moines Area Community College, in front of Tower Bridge and the River Thames, London. (Photo: DMACC)

The Newton Daily News reports that Rice was killed after emerging from a self-quarantine following the trip to London.


Des Moines Register


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