On Sunday, Officer Rickford Leitch of the Cocoa Police Department was helping to escort a procession of individuals transporting the Traveling Vietnam War Memorial Wall through Cocoa and to Melbourne when he was hit by a car. The procession, an annual event that is widely attended and very popular among the citizens of the towns through which it passes, was traveling along U.S. 1 (which was recently ranked the most dangerous roadway in the country) when Officer Leitch was struck.
According to the official report, Officer Leitch was riding on his motorcycle, acting in an official capacity to help escort the memorial from one city to another, when a blue Jeep Grand Cherokee pulled out into U.S. 1, directly into the rout of Officer Leitch, who was unable to avoid striking the car. In a statement, Officer Leitch says that he saw the car turning out and had the option of either avoiding the Jeep and crashing into the procession or colliding with the car. Selflessly, Officer Leitch chose the latter of the two options. This decision has landed him in the hospital and diagnosed as dealing with a concussion as well as numerous injuries to his hand.
The Public Information Officer for the Cocoa Police Department, Yvonne Martinez, adds information to the account given by Officer Leitch. According to Martinez, the officer was driving his motorcycle at full (but legal) speed down U.S. 1 when the incident occurred. The Jeep pulled out directly in front of the officer, shortly after the cavalcade of over 1,000 motorcycles had crossed over State Road 520, and while the large group was traveling to Rosa Jones Boulevard. Officer Leitch struck the driver side of the car, and the impact caused him to be thrown over his handlebars and turn numerous times in the air. When he hit the asphalt of the highway, he was knocked unconscious.
Officer Leitch was airlifted to a hospital, but the driver of the Jeep fled the scene. According to witnesses, the driver of the Jeep stopped momentarily after the accident, but never exited the car. By the time the injured officer was attended to and taken to a hospital, the Jeep and its driver were gone. They have been described as a male, somewhere between 20 and 30, and having short hair.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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