Duval County

CEO of UF Health Jacksonville, Dr. Haley dies after being ejected from jet ski, FWC says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Dr. Leon Haley, the CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and the first person in the state of Florida to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, died Saturday in a jet ski crash in South Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Haley was ejected from the watercraft and was found in the water in the Palm Beach Inlet wearing a life jacket. According to a law enforcement report, the jet ski was “out of control” when it crashed into a jetty.

FWC said the investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Haley was the first Black CEO of UF Health and played a pivotal role in getting the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out in Jacksonville, especially in the Black community.

Action News Jax will continue to share updates into the investigation into Haley’s death below:

7/30/21 5:30 p.m. UPDATE:

Dr. Leon Haley’s funeral service will be held Saturday, July 31st at 11 a.m. at Wesley AME Zion Church in Pittsburgh.

The funeral service will also be broadcasted live for those who would like to view the service. To watch online, visit http://grievefromhome.com and click on “watch funeral service”

7/26/21 2:15 p.m. UPDATE:

Action News Jax’s Ben Becker has obtained an incident report from law enforcement that says witnesses told first responders that Dr. Leon Haley’s jet ski was “out of control” when it crashed into a jetty on Saturday in South Florida.

First responders first got on the scene in just under 6 minutes after the crash as two witnesses held Haley above water as he was unconscious.

Becker will have more updates from the investigation into the crash on CBS47 and FOX30 Action News Jax at 5 p.m.

7/25/21 5:19 p.m. UPDATE:

Action News Jax has new photos of the Jet Ski crash site where UF Health CEO Dr. Leon Haley was killed.

He was wearing a life jacket and using a 2021 10-foot Yamaha Jet Ski according to FWC.

Photos below:

7/25/21 11: 35 a.m. UPDATE:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission released a statement Sunday regarding the death of Dr. Haley.

The FWC said Dr. Haley died after being ejected from a jetski in the Palm Beach Inlet, South jetty. Dr. Haley was found in the water, wearing a life jacket, and was transported to the hospital, the FWC said.

The Coast Guard tells Action News Jax, Ben Becker “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 FWC’s statement is below:

On Saturday, July 24, at 10:33am, FWC responded to the report of a personal watercraft (PWC) incident at the Palm Beach Inlet, South jetty. A 2021 10′ Yamaha PWC, operated by Leon Leroy Haley, DOB 11/06/1964, of Jacksonville, was ejected from the watercraft and was located in the water wearing a life jacket. Mr. Haley was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach, where he was confirmed deceased as a result of injuries sustained in this incident. All of the members of the FWC want to express our sincere sympathies to Mr. Haley’s family, friends and his colleagues at the University of Florida Health Jacksonville. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of them.

FWC is currently investigating this incident.


UF Health has announced the passing of Dr. Leon L. Haley Jr., the UF Health Jacksonville CEO.

Dr. Haley was the first Black CEO of UF Health.

He played a pivotal role in getting the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out in Jacksonville, especially in the Black community.

Dr. Haley became the first person vaccinated in Florida against COVID-19 in December of last year.

He said when he received the vaccine he wanted to help Black people who are hesitant about getting the vaccine.

Dr. Haley supported Black faith leaders and helped tell Back people the science is safe for them to get the vaccine.

Action News Jax just spoke with Dr. Haley on Friday, July 23, in a community health briefing that discussed vaccination rates, vaccine hesitancy and COVID-19 variants.

The specifics of his death have not been released.

UF Health gave the following statement:

“It is with great sadness that we confirm the death of UF Health Jacksonville CEO Leon L. Haley Jr. Dr. Haley was a strong, inspirational leader and beloved son, father, friend and colleague. We ask that you keep his family in your prayers tonight and in the coming days.

We do not have specific details of his passing at this time. We ask that you respect the privacy of Dr. Haley’s family, friends and colleagues at UF Health.”

This is a developing story that will be updated once more information becomes available.