Local News West Hollywood

WeHo sheriff’s deputy killed helping elderly woman

WEST HOLLYWOOD — A candlelight vigil was held Jan. 13 for a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was fatally struck by a vehicle in Valley Village after she helped a woman who had fallen in an intersection get to safety.

The accident that took the life of Detective Amber Leist occurred about 11:05 a.m. Jan. 12 at the intersection of Whitsett Avenue and Riverside Drive, according to Los Angeles police and the sheriff’s department.

“Right in the middle of the intersection, she stops, and she came, [and] my wife is too heavy to lift by myself and [Leist] just lifted her up,” Richard Mehana told NBC4.

Leist was returning to her vehicle when she was struck. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, the LAPD said.

She was a 12-year-veteran of the department, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.

Detective “Leist leaves behind her parents and two sons, one 20-years-old and the second, 17-years-old,” Villanueva said at a news conference at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. “The 20-year-old son is on active duty with the U.S. Navy and we were able to reach him,” he said.

Villanueva said that personnel at the West Hollywood station were replaced Jan. 13 by personnel from other locations so that the West Hollywood personnel had a chance to grieve their loss. The department also assigned a psychologist to the station, he added.

“It’s one of those things that, when it did happen, what was she doing? She was helping somebody. That’s a quintessential deputy sheriff,” Villanueva said. “We are shocked and stunned by the sudden loss of a family member.”

Sheriff’s deputies and representatives of other law enforcement agencies escorted Leist’s body from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to the coroner’s office Jan. 12, sheriff’s officials said.

“I got her name on paper and I wanted to call the deputy sheriffs and write a card of condolences,” Mehana told ABC7. “I never met the woman. I wasn’t even introduced. She came out of no place. Very loving, very nice.”

The driver who hit the deputy stayed at the scene to render help, the LAPD said.

Leist was off-duty when she was struck, but Villanueva said the incident would be treated as an on-duty occurrence.

A memorial service was being planned, Villanueva said.

“She made the ultimate sacrifice, and she knew that going in, she knew that. And I couldn’t be more prouder,” Daniel Leist, Amber’s father, told NBC4. “Her life ended as she lived her life — serving others.”

From City News Service