Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy dies following crash

A Lake County sheriff’s deputy known for his charisma and ability to mentor new deputies died Tuesday night after apparently suffering a medical emergency and crashing his patrol vehicle, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Prior to the 8:35 p.m. crash, Deputy Robert Rumfelt, 50, had helped arrest a man who’d fought with deputies, said Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin. After Rumfelt left the Lakeport call, he drove off a nearby road and hit a tree.

He was taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital and died from his injuries.

Rumfelt, known as “Rob,” was a lifelong Lake County resident and member of a prominent Lake County family. He was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and an assistant football coach at Clear Lake High School.

Robert Rumfelt
Robert Rumfelt

In 1997 he was sworn in as a Lakeport police officer, then left in 2006 to work in the Middle East as a private contractor teaching law enforcement tactics, according to a news release on the death.

In 2014 he became a Lake County sheriff’s deputy. His duties included firearms instruction and training new deputies and Rumfelt brought his Marine Corps discipline, leadership and work ethic to his job, said the sheriff.

“He took time to teach the (newer deputies) how to do things right, how to be effective and how to be good deputies,” the sheriff said. “He was very charismatic, very knowledgeable.”

“If he showed up on a scene we knew things were going to be good, things were going to be OK,” Martin said.

Tuesday night, Lakeport police and deputies were called just before 8 p.m. to a fight involving four or five people on Boggs Lane, east of Highway 29. Deputies and officers found several people in front of a Healton Circle home near Boggs Lane and saw a bloodied man run into the woods, officials said. When found, the man fought his arrest and a Taser stun gun barb was used to subdue him, officials said.

Deputies arrested Alex Michael Castillo, 21, of Nice suspecting domestic violence involving the original call. Castillo also was wanted on an arrest warrant involving a prior domestic violence charge. He was booked into the Lake County Jail.

Rumfelt left the call and had gone just blocks away on Hartley Road when he crashed. Lakeport firefighters and paramedics attempted life‑saving measures, which continued at the hospital. The sheriff said it appeared Rumfelt had “a medical issue that occurred right after and possibly as a result of the altercation.”

The deputy’s death is being investigated by the Lake County District Attorney’s Office. An autopsy will be performed and the investigation will include reviewing the deputy’s dashboard camera and checking the vehicle for mechanical issues.

Rumfelt’s death will be keenly felt at the small law enforcement agency and in the small community, said Martin, who planned to be spending extra time with his son’s football team as they grieve the loss of their coach.

“He’s going to be sorely missed. There will be a hole in our hearts for a very long time,” Martin said.

Rumfelt is survived by his wife, Kelly; daughters, Brittany and Nicole; parents, Leslie and Robert “Bob” Rumfelt, a longtime Lakeport City Council member and former Lake County sheriff’s deputy, as well as extended family in Lake County.

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