Memorial service honors deputy, wife killed in crash - - Columbia, South Carolina

Memorial service honors deputy, wife killed in crash

Derek El Dada Derek El Dada

A public memorial service Tuesday afternoon honored the Richland County deputy and his wife who were killed in a motorcycle crash late last week.

Sgt. Derek El Dada a 9-year veteran of the Richland County Sheriff's Department and his wife Leigh were killed after the motorcycle they were riding on was hit by a Chevrolet Malibu on Highway 391 near Hutto Island Road.

Derek was pronounced dead at the scene and his wife later died at Palmetto Health Richland.

The memorial service was held at 2 p.m. at Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church on Sunset Boulevard in Lexington.

The biggest challenge faces the El Dada's two teen daughters, left without parents after that tragic accident last week. Tuesday they listened as Sheriff Lott remembered a strong couple.

"Leigh and Derek never put anything first over their girls," said Lott. "Leigh was the perfect cop's wife. She supported Derek at his work by being a paralegal and a mother. She was good at her job, but better at taking care of her family."

Leigh was described as a selfless professional, much like her husband. A deputy whose passing elicited a handful of letters from those he'd served.

"One woman wrote: Deputy El Dada came to my home after my 9-year old son tried to run away," Lott added. "He is a very caring professional officer. I feel much safer knowing he's on the force protecting us."

Lott closed by reading El Dada's line of duty death final request, something all deputies are required to fill out just in case of a situation like this.

"Derek's answer was, 'Please make sure my wife is taken care of and that my kids' college is squared away," said Lott. "And keep it simple.' Well Derek, we are taking care of Leigh, and your daughters will always be taken care of by all of us. Rest in peace, my brother."

Derek had been with the Richland County Sheriff's Department for nine years. He was assigned to the Dutch Fork region and was in charge of 12 people there. He had previously worked with the Forest Acres Police Department for five years.

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