A little more than a year after a Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy was killed, his widow and his work family are opening up about the man they lost.
On Oct. 9, 2011, Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Leanea Nyeayea, 37, was riding his personal motorcycle with his friends. Nyeayea was driving south on Binford Boulevard near Kessler Boulevard East Drive when he collided with a Volkswagen Jetta. Nyeayea was killed. Witnesses said they believed he was driving 70-80 mph.
Melton and Nyeayea were on the same squad.
“You don’t realize how tight you really are until that link is missing and then you kinda feel a little bit lost,” Melton continued.
Nyeayea left behind five children and wife Nehley.
“He was a good husband. He was a God-fearing man. He loved me very much,” Nehley Nyeayea said. “I still think he’s going to walk through the door someday."
Nehley Nyeayea said she has come a long way, since her husband’s death.
“I just tell God thank you for this strength, knowing that my husband would really love for me to be like where I am right now,” she said.
When her husband died, Nehley Nyeayea was two months pregnant. She had a miscarriage the day Leanea Nyeayea was buried.
“It was like two lives were taken from me that same October,” she said.
Since then, Nehley Nyeayea has began volunteering at the sheriff’s office.
“It makes me feel real closer to my husband and makes me feel real closer to his work because that’s what he loved to do,” she said. “We would not go anywhere that Lee would not put down his pride and do something for someone and I loved him so much and I miss him."
Deputy Nyeayea was hired to work at the sheriff’s office in 2008. He worked on the second shift.
“We remember Lee every day. He’s on our roll call sheet every day,” Lt. Jon Robison said.
Lt. Robison was Nyeayea’s shift commander.
“Our sorrow that we felt a year ago -that was so debilitating- has turned into funny stories, found remembrances that we can tell and bring a smile to our face, instead of remembering, you know, the pain,” Lt. Robison said.
Lt. Robison described how much closer everyone is after the crash.
“We're in a much better place. His void has not been filled nor will it ever by filled,” Lt. Robison said.
“There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think of Lee, in some way, shape or form,” Melton said.
Nehley Nyeayea said she is grateful for everything people did for her family. Some of the same people who sat with Deputy Nyeayea during roll call and other Hamilton County employees had money deducted from their checks and placed into a fund set up for Nyeayea’s family. Nehley Nyeayea said his family and strangers donated too.
Because of all of that, Nehley Nyeayea and her children were able to keep their home.
“It makes me very proud to know that when this happened, we all came together and got this done,” Lt. Robison said. "I'm so proud of the guys from second shift.
"They have stepped up and done things that I can that I would have never dreamed of and the sacrifices that they've made and the sacrifices that their wives and significant others have made to be there for Nelly and her family.
“He was a great man and you don’t realize how big he was until he was gone,” Melton said.
Nehley Nyeayea said she was deeply amazed by the support she has received.
“Thank you very, very much from the bottom of my heart and Lee would love that and Lee is looking down on every one of them as they go to work,” she said. “He’s gone to be with the Lord, but for people to still be here, especially for the sheriff’s department to still be here to take care of his family is amazing."
Lt. Kevin Fessel shared a video with Fox59 News called "Leanea Nyeayea: A Celebration of Life."