Dr. Leon Haley Jr. was killed successful mishap successful South Florida

Men accidental    they tried to prevention  UF Health Jacksonville CEO aft  idiosyncratic   watercraft accidentMen accidental they tried to prevention UF Health Jacksonville CEO aft idiosyncratic watercraft accident

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. – Two men said they attempted to prevention UF Health Jacksonville CEO Dr. Leon Haley Jr. aft a personal watercraft mishap implicit the weekend successful South Florida.

Tim Palmer and Keith Cojocar told News4Jax connected Monday that they were sportfishing connected a jetty adjacent the Palm Beach Inlet connected Saturday erstwhile they witnessed the accident.

“I saw Dr. Haley retired of power connected his pitchy skis a small bit,” Palmer said. “Might person been a aftermath from a boat.”

“My person Keith yelled for maine and said, ‘I request help,’” Cojocar said. “And I turned astir and determination was a pitchy skis crashing onto the rocks, which caught maine disconnected defender beauteous hard erstwhile I saw it.”

ONLY ON NEWS4JAX: I spoke w/ 2 men who accidental they jumped into the h2o to effort and prevention UF Health CEO, Dr. Leon Haley aft a watercraft mishap successful Palm Beach Co. They didn’t cognize who helium was astatine the time, but prayed arsenic they kept his caput supra water. @wjxt4 https://t.co/QGKiMtiTLg pic.twitter.com/cTQDSi8vL7

— Corley Peel (@WJXT_CorleyPeel) July 27, 2021

Another antheral shared with News4Jax a photograph of the idiosyncratic watercraft connected the jetty. Palmer and Cojocar said the Yamaha WaveRunner barrel-rolled connected apical of the rocks. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Haley was thrown disconnected the idiosyncratic watercraft and was recovered successful the h2o wearing a beingness jacket.


Palmer and Cojocar said the mishap happened successful a divided second, but without hesitation, they jumped into the h2o to effort to prevention Haley. They said Haley’s loved ones -- a pistillate and young lad -- were connected a antithetic watercraft.

“We were conscionable trying to clasp his caput retired of the water, and the existent was truly going out, truly strong,” Palmer said.

At the time, the men didn’t recognize Haley was a antheral who has been astatine the forefront of the combat against COVID-19 successful Jacksonville, arsenic good arsenic a father of three, but they said they prayed arsenic they held him until archetypal responders arrived.

“We didn’t cognize his name, but we tried to commune for the man,” Cojocar said.


FWC said Haley, 56, was taken to a infirmary successful West Palm Beach, wherever helium died.

Palmer and Cojocar said they volition ne'er hide Haley.

“I deliberation he’s a large antheral and each you tin bash is grant him,” Cojocar said. “And I commune for their family.”

The nonstop origin of the mishap is inactive nether investigation, according to FWC.

The Coast Guard told News4Jax that the conditions were calm and harmless connected Saturday.

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Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax astatine 11.