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UF Health CEO passes away in jet ski accident

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | July 27, 2021
Emergency Medicine
Dr. Leon Haley
Dr. Leon Haley, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine, has died in a jet skiing accident.

The 56-year-old perished Saturday after being ejected from a jet ski in Palm Beach Inlet's South Jetty, confirmed the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) to Action News Jax.

“A man was ejected and pulled from the water with significant injuries, the crew commenced CPR, he was transported to the hospital with a faint heartbeat but was DOA [dead on arrival],” the coast guard told Action News Jax.

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An investigation into his death is ongoing, but an incident report says that witnesses told first responders that Haley’s jet ski was “out of control” when it crashed into a jetty. At the time, Haley was wearing a life jacket and using a 2021 10-foot Yamaha Jet Ski, according to FWC.

Following his residency at Henry Ford Health System, Haley stayed on as a senior staff physician there before taking up work at Emory University and its safety-net hospital, Grady Health System. At Emory he served as a professor of emergency medicine and executive associate dean, as well as chief medical officer of the Emory Medical Care Foundation. He also served as vice chair of emergency medicine at Emory University. He formerly served as deputy senior vice president of medical affairs and chief of emergency medicine for Grady Health System.

He assumed a role as dean at the University of Florida College of Medicine in January 2017 and also served as a UF professor of emergency medicine and vice president for health affairs at the University of Florida. He became the first black CEO of UF Health Jacksonville in January 2018, where he helped secure the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Jacksonville, especially within the black community. In addition, he was a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians and was a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American College of Physician Executives

Haley earned his undergraduate degree from Brown University in Rhode Island and obtained his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh and his master’s in health services administration from the University of Michigan.

He is survived by his parents, Elizabeth Ann and Leon Haley Sr.; his sister, Lisa Haley Huff; and his children, Nichelle, Grant and Wesley.

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