- Eliot Kleinberg Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The Wellington man who followed his father, slain Broward County sheriff’s deputy Chris Reyka, into law enforcement was the driver in a crash this week that killed a bicyclist, authorities said.
Broward deputy Sean Reyka, 30, was named in the incident Tuesday in Pompano Beach that killed bicyclist John Mancini, 60, the Broward Sheriff’s office said.
Reyka had joined the Broward department in 2012 as an homage to his father, who was murdered 10 years ago this summer outside a Pompano Beach drug store.
According to Thursday’s statement, Sean Reyka at about 3 p.m. Tuesday was driving a marked Ford Explorer SUV north on the 1400 block of North Dixie Highway, near the Pompano Beach Air Park airport and along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks, when, “for circumstances that remain under investigation,” he struck Mancini.
The cyclist died at the scene, a week before his 61st birthday. He lived near the crash site.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said Friday that Reyka was responding to an alarm in the city, which contracts with the sheriff’s office for police services, but had not activated either his lights or his siren. She said Reyka was shaken by the incident.
“It’s possible that his tire, the bicycle tire, could have gotten stuck in the tracks,” sheriff’s spokesperson Veda Coleman-Wright told WSVN-TV in Miami. “Based on some of the information that the witnesses said, he may have fallen down before he was even struck.”
Wright also told WSVN that Reyka was not required to have his lights and siren on at the time of the crash.
The statement said Sheriff Scott Israel has asked the Florida Highway Patrol to handle the investigation.
“I recognize that this is a high profile case. While I have full confidence in my detectives, I want to ensure enhanced transparency,” Israel said in the statement.
Reyka is on administrative leave with pay, the sheriff”s office said Friday. He has not been the subject of any disciplinary investigations since he became a deputy.
The family said Friday it had no comment.
In August, the Reykas and more than 100 supporters gathered at the Walgreens store on Powerline Road in Pompano Beach where, a decade earlier, someone fatally shot Chris Reyka, 51.
“To know that I wear a patch that Sgt. Chris Reyka once wore is very humbling to me,” Israel said at the ceremony.
On Aug. 10, 2007, Chris Reyka, a deputy for 17 years, had spotted the tags of a stolen vehicle in the parking lot of the store when he was ambushed and was shot five times.
About a month after Reyka’s death, authorities identified a person of interest who was killed in a shootout with police. Although it was considered a breakthrough in the investigation, the case officially remains open.
“A day doesn’t go by without thinking about him, and I find that I most miss him when it comes to raising my son,” Sean Reyka told The Palm Beach Post on Aug. 6 for a 10th anniversary story. “He was the best father anyone could have asked for, and I try to emulate him while raising my own son.”
Sean Reyka added that: “It saddens me that he isn’t here to watch his grandchildren grow up, to give them the steady and wise guidance he gave his own children. I count myself lucky to have had him as a father to begin with, even if for only a short amount of time.”
Sean’s sister Autumn, 25, also went into law enforcement; she’s a deputy with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.