COLLIER COUNTY — A man of faith, who was always willing to lend a helping hand.
That’s how Chris Rahmings described her husband Leroy, a Collier County Sheriff’s Office Community Service deputy who was killed Tuesday morning in a fatal accident near his Lehigh Acres home.
“He was loved by everyone,” said Chris Rahmings. “He was just a lovable, lovable man.”
The accident occurred on State Road 82 early Tuesday morning.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol report, Rahmings’ 1995 Dodge pick-up truck was traveling north on Blackstone Drive approaching the intersection at S.R. 82, while a semi-truck driven by 54-year-old Kenneth Pigott, was traveling east on S.R. 82 approaching Blackstone Drive.
When Rahmings attempted to make a left onto S.R. 82, reports said he traveled directly into the path the semi-truck. Pigott was unable to avoid Rahmings’ Dodge and the front of the semi stuck the left side the pick-up truck.
Rahmings’ Dodge rotated counter clockwise and traveled into the westbound lane. The rear portion of the pick-up separated from the front and traveled onto the north shoulder.
Meanwhile, the front portion of the Dodge exploded into a ball of flames and came to final rest facing north in the westbound lane on State Road 82.
Rahmings, 68, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Chris Rahmings heard about the crash on the radio, she said.
“Then my daughter called,” she said. “I walked up the street and I saw the truck.”
A native of Miami and U.S. Army veteran, Rahmings, retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 1993 and moved with his family from Miami to Naples in 1994. The family moved to Lehigh Acres in 2005.
The couple met at a Miami church in the early 1990s and after twice turning down his marriage proposals, Chris Rahmings said she finally said yes the third time around.
Now, the family’s faith is helping them cope with their loss, she said.
“He had a strong work ethic and a strong faith,” said Chris Rahmings, 53. “I believe that when he woke up this morning and saw the Lord he did not resist it.”
Word of Leroy’s death also quickly spread through the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, where he’d worked since 1995.
“It’s certainly a very sad day for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. Leroy was a friend to everyone here,” said Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, who’d worked closely with Rahmings for six years. “It has been a difficult time for most people. He was always very happy, very positive and very motivated. No matter how your day was, he always made it a little nicer. ... I think that’s why it’s so impacting.”
Collier Sheriff’s Lt. Rich Gibbons agreed.
“We’re a large agency,” said Gibbons a 19-year Sheriff’s Office veteran. “But you can’t find anyone in the Sheriffs Office that would say anything bad about him. He was well respected and the hardest working guy I ever saw. He was by far the nicest and happiest person I’ve ever come across.”
Over the years, Rahmings duties ranged from directing traffic and helping stranded motorists, to taking reports of minor property crimes and delivering mail throughout the Sheriff’s Office.
And he left his mark on anyone that knew him, said Melissa Pearson a senior buyer for the Sheriff’s Office purchasing department.
“He touched everybody’s lives,” said Pearson, who appreciated Rahmings deep spirituality and willingness to help others. “Leroy loved the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. It was part of his life.”
And even though he “retired” from the Sheriff’s Office in May 2006 — for about 2 months — Chris Rahmings fondly remembered that her husband of 19-years called his time off just a “rest.”
The avid golfer went back to work in July 2006.
“He loved to work. And he felt he was too young to not get up and go to work,” said Chris.
Collier County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Karie Partington said flags at the Sheriff’s Office would be flown at half-staff and that deputies would wear a black stripe on their badges in Rahmings’ honor.
In addition to his wife, Rahmings is survived by seven children and seven grandchildren.
“I thank God that I had the opportunity to have him as long as I had,” said Chris Rahmings. “He was an impeccable man ... irreplaceable.”
A service for Rahmings will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, at First Baptist Church Naples, 3000 Orange Blossom Drive, where he was a deacon.
Connect with Elysa Batista at www.naplesnews.com/staff/elysa_batista