VALLEY VILLAGE (CBSLA) — A vigil was held Tuesday night for Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Detective Amber Joy Leist who was struck and killed by a vehicle Sunday morning in Valley Village while helping a woman who had fallen in the street.
LAPD was directing traffic near the intersection of Riverside Drive and Whitsett Avenue where Leist was struck in preparation for the 7 p.m. vigil.
“This is the most heartrending thing you can ever experience,” Daniel Leist, the deputy’s father, said. “You never think you’re gonna lose your baby, but Amber came into this department and she knew what she had to do.”
LASD West Hollywood attended the vigil and said in a tweet, “We have gathered at the vigil for our fallen sister, Detective Amber Leist. We’re here to support her family and friends in this sad time.”
Leist, a 12-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department assigned to the West Hollywood Station, was hit around 11:05 a.m. at the intersection of Whitsett Avenue and Riverside Drive while helping a couple across the street.
While walking back to her vehicle, Leist was struck by an oncoming vehicle. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries.
The couple who she helped said they are heartbroken by the news of what transpired.
“Thank you so very much,” said Leslie Mehana who was helped by Leist. “I wish it hadn’t happened to her.”
Richard Mehana who was also crossing the street said, “I can’t believe it in a way, that she would be killed like that.”
Leist’s father said he was not surprised that she was helping someone else when she was killed.
“From a young girl, she was always one of those that stood up for those that were less fortunate, those who were vulnerable,” he said. “When she came onto the sheriff’s department, she took on that servant heart.”
The tragic accident was mourned across the country including by an 11-year-old boy in Florida who is running in honor of fallen firefighters and officers for his charity, Running For Heroes.
He dedicated his Tuesday run to Leist.
She leaves behind two sons, a 16-year-old high school student and a 20-year-old currently serving in the United States Navy.