UF Health Jacksonville CEO Dr. Leon Haley Jr. died after being accidentally ejected from his personal watercraft vehicle in the Palm Beach Inlet, officials said in a statement late Sunday.
The 56-year-old doctor was praised and well-known for his significant contribution to Jacksonville COVID-19 response.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Haley was riding a jet ski when he was ejected from the watercraft in the Palm Beach Inlet on Saturday.
Rescuers then found him in the water wearing a life jacket and brought him to St. Mary’s Hospital. Medical staff confirmed that he died after sustaining life-threatening injuries as a result of the accident.
“All of the members of the FWC want to express our sincere sympathies to Dr. Haley’s family, friends and his colleagues at the University of Florida Health Jacksonville,” the commission said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of them.”
Under Haley’s leadership, UF Health Jacksonville became the first hospital in the city to receive shipments of the coronavirus vaccine. He also actively urged the public to take part in the vaccination program and even became the first in line to receive a shot.
Dr. David Nelson, the senior vice president for health affairs at the University of Florida and president of UF Health, expressed his sadness for the death of Haley and promised that they will continue his vision on his behalf.
“Dr. Haley was such an incredible leader and colleague to all of us at UF Health, but he was also a good friend to so many, an amazing advocate for equality in health care, and most importantly a man of integrity who always wanted to do the right thing,” Nelson said in a statement.
“This is not only a tremendous loss to Dr. Haley’s family, friends and the people he led at UF, but also to our communities in North Florida and elsewhere around the country. His leadership and friendship will be missed, but we will come together and continue his vision.”
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