Friends of Riverdale motorcyclist killed in hit-and-run to hold fundraiser for family

FRESNO COUNTY (KFSN) -- Friends of 48-year-old Eric Leoni say he was riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle from Riverdale to where he worked in Lemoore when the crash happened.

"It was unexpected," said friend and co-worker Sandra Tuck. "Yes, tragic."

The California Highway Patrol says a stolen semi-truck, driven by a 20-year-old French man whose student visa had expired, plowed into the back of Leoni while he sat at a red light early Monday morning. Leoni died at the scene.

The driver was arrested and faces numerous felony charges, including manslaughter, hit-and-run and driving under the influence. He'll be back in court next Wednesday.

"We lost a co-worker and a friend, and it was a great loss and it really hit the community very hard," Tuck said.

Tuck is now asking the community to help lift up Leoni's family. He had a wife, two children, and a grandchild. Tuck organized a donation drive for Leoni's family at the corner of Belle Haven Drive and Bush Street in Lemoore. She says she'll be here Saturday and Sunday as well.

Richard Tilley, who came to help, is another friend putting on a potluck fundraiser for the family in about a week.

"He was a good guy, he really was," Tilley said.

Tilley spoke on behalf of Leoni's wife, Kelly, who is a photographer for his biker-themed newspaper. Naturally, he says Kelly is having a tough time dealing with the loss of her husband.

"He was her life, you (saw) them together you knew that was one happy couple," Tilley said.

Friends say Leoni was a family man, who liked to have fun and would help anyone in need, but didn't need, nor like, any attention.

"He (wasn't) a very social person," Tilley said. "But he was always polite; he would stand off in the shadow."

Honks, waves, donations-they're all accepted. Above all, friends just want people to know who Eric Leoni was, and what he meant to those closest to him.

Potluck fundraiser for Eric Leoni's family:

May 7th 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Brown's Bar & Grill at the Hub (5020 19 1/2 Avenue, Riverdale)
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