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Sep 16, 2012 11:56 PM by Josh Breslow

Family, Friends Mourn Hodgenville Officer Killed During High-Speed Chase

The flags around Hodgenville fly at half staff. A cross marks the spot on Kentucky 210 in LaRue County, where Officer Mark Taulbee's final run came to a tragic end.

"He was a devoted father and an excellent police officer," said Billy Taulbee, the officer's nephew. "It just doesn't seem real. Seems like we should see him go past in his cruiser, patrolling like always."

Billy Taulbee says his uncle wanted nothing more than to be a police officer.

"It does help knowing that he passed away doing what he always wanted to do," said Taulbee.

State Police said Officer Taulbee was involved in a high-speed chase with Jason Avis, 29, on Sunday around 3:30 a.m. During that chase, the officer somehow lost control of his cruiser, causing it to hit an embankment and become airborne. The impact was so powerful, it ripped off Taulbee's seatbelt and the officer was thrown from his cruiser.

The 43-year-old died at University Of Louisville Hospital.

"It's just like a member of your family passes away," said Chief Steve Johnson with the Hodgenville Police Department, who worked with Taulbee closely during his 13 months with the department. "I keep expecting to wake up or maybe get a call from him."

"He's gonna be somebody who can't be replaced. There's no one else out there like him," Billy Taulbee said.

Officer Taulbee had also worked with the Butler County Sheriff's Office and the Morgantown Police Department.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

Avis is charged with wanton endangerment and fleeing police. Officers said more charges are likely.

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