Off-duty police officer and mother of 2 killed while helping elderly woman cross the street

The off-duty officer saw an elderly woman fall while crossing a busy road.

January 13, 2020, 2:57 AM

An off-duty sheriff’s detective was struck and killed by a car while she was in the middle of helping an elderly woman cross the street who had fallen in the middle of the road.

Amber Joy Leist, a 41-year-old mother of two sons aged 17 and 20 and a 12-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, had stopped her car in Valley Village, California, on Sunday morning at around 11 a.m. when she saw an elderly woman fall while she was crossing the street.

Leist parked her car near the intersection of Riverside Drive and Whitsett Avenue to help the fallen woman but was struck by an oncoming vehicle when she attempted to return to her car.

Leist was immediately taken to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

"Today the LA County Sheriff's Department is grieving," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva in a statement on Twitter. "We are shocked and stunned by the sudden loss of a family member … She was an outstanding detective who lead by example."

Leist had a colorful and varied 12-year career including working as a north county corrections officer, a deputy in Lancaster as well as a school resource officer. Leist had spent the last five years with the West Hollywood station where she had been promoted to detective.

Police are investigating the circumstances around the accident but the driver involved in Leist’s death stopped at the scene and was cooperating with investigators.