Los Angeles County sheriff’s Detective Amber Leist was off-duty when she died moments after helping a woman who had fallen down on the street in Valley Village on Sunday.
The woman’s husband, Richard Mehana, was walking with his wife at the time. She fell to the ground, prompting Leist, who had been stopped at a traffic light before the crosswalk, to jump out of her car to assist the couple.
On Tuesday, Mehana recalled the detective’s last moments.
“It was an act of kindness,” Mehana said of Leist’s final deed. “I mean, she just stopped, and she came and she said, ‘Let me help.’ And she picked up my wife, got her to the curb. I mean a stranger, she didn’t say, I’m this, I’m a deputy… . She just gave from her heart.”
After guiding the husband and wife to the sidewalk, Leist ran back to her car. But just before entering her vehicle, the traffic light turned green. That’s when an oncoming car struck her, according to authorities, who are treating the case as an accident.
Officials said Leist was taken to the hospital, where she died.
Since her death, tributes from family and her fellow law enforcement officers have poured in. She served 12 years with the Sheriff’s Department, according to the agency.
“She was just a hero,” Leist’s 17-year-old son, Daniel Laney, told KTLA. “She was always caring. She would always come home and talk about the victims, and how she felt so sorry for them. I’d listen.”
Capt. Ed Ramirez at the West Hollywood station, where Leist was assigned, described her as a “ray of sunshine.”
Laney said his older brother serves in the U.S. Navy and was set to return home from Norfolk, Virginia on Tuesday afternoon.