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New Hero Search Leonard Trudeau
- Jan. 16, 1995 -
(240)

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Miami-Dade Corrections Dept. Patch
Resided: (Miami-Dade County)
FL, USA
Born: May. 01, 1954  
Fallen: Jan. 16, 1995
Race/Sex: Caucasian Male / 40 yrs. of age
Agency
Dept: Miami-Dade County Corrections
FL   USA
County: Dade
Dept. Type: County/Corrections
Hero's Rank: Jailer
Sworn Date: 1980
FBI Class: Crash
Weapon Class: Vehicle
On The Job: 15 years
Bio: Leonard Trudeau was born on May 1, 1954, in Coral Gables, FL. He was the third of four children (Joe, George, Leonard, and Judy) born to Homer Joseph Trudeau and Frances Marie Trudeau. His father, a World War II veteran, moved to Miami from Springfield, MA, and was from a French-Canadian family. Homer Joseph Trudeau's uncle, Edward P. Mulrooney, was Police Commissioner of New York City from May 21, 1930 to April 12, 1933. The Trudeau children grew up in the Coral Gables and S. Miami area. All four children were baptized, had first communion and confirmation at the Church of the Little Flower.

Leonard attended the Merrick Demonstration (Elementary) School and Jr. High School at St. Theresa (next door to the church of the Little Flower) and S. Miami. He attended Coral Gables and S. Miami H.S. but did not complete high school until he joined the Army and got his G.E.D.

As a youth he was a Boy Scout, had a newspaper route, and was in the band in elementary and jr. high school. He also developed an early interest in police scanners which led to his interest in law enforcement.

Leonard joined the Army at 17 and was stationed at Ft. Knox in KY and Ft. Jackson in S.C. He served as a mechanic during his two years in the Army and was discharged in 1973.

Upon discharge from the Army, Trudeau returned to Miami, and from 1973-1980, worked as a mechanic at Baney's Garage in S. Miami, at Red Bird Standard and at Ted and Stan's Towing Co. In 1980 he was hired by the Metro-Dade Corrections Dept. and graduated from Training Academy Class #30 in 1980. One of his classmates in the Academy was Robert Zore who later became a Metro-Dade police officer and was killed in the line of duty in 1983. One of his instructors at the training academy was Peter Neumann who later became the chaplain at the Dade County Jail. Leonard Trudeau saw plenty of "action" as a corrections officer. In 1980 during his first year of work he was working inside the Dade County Jail on N.W. 36th St. during a riot that injured 22 and caused $10,000 damage. Trudeau was later assigned to the rear lobby area of the downtown jail for several years and was in close contact with inmates coming into the jail for booking. Fellow officer and lifelong friend, Ted Sinnes, noted: Those are places where you're in contact with prisoners that are violent, just coming in under arrest, maybe on drugs and they don't like being told what to do. I remember one time he pulled an officer out of a cell when he was in trouble. Ordinarily you'd call for assistance and wait for it to arrive, but Lenny wasn't the type to put his own safety first. (quote from Ted Sinnes in PBA HEAT, Feb./1995)

At the time of his death, Trudeau, a 14-year veteran of the Dept., was working in the records section and was in charge of the records of transfers to other jails and prisons. Leonard Trudeau was well known around the Dade courthouse as his brother, George, served in Judge Ellen Morphonios' court for many years. Judge Morphonios was a family friend of the Trudeaus. Many Dade law enforcement officers knew Trudeau from his years at the "rear lobby" of the jail when officers brought in inmates for booking.

Trudeau's willingness to "get involved" was not limited to helping stranded motorists as indicated by his "Good Samaritan" act the morning of his death. Several years before his death, Trudeau was about to report for work at the downtown jail when he saw someone attempting to break into a car in a parking lot. He confronted the man who said the car belonged to his sister. Trudeau then went inside the jail and checked out the license and determined that the car, in fact, belonged to a fellow corrections officer. He and another officer went back outside and found the man sitting inside the car. When they confronted the thief, who had just been released from jail, he pointed a gun at the unarmed officers and fled. The thief was eventually caught after a chase and crash.

In 1980 Leonard Trudeau married Brenda Welkner. Their daughter, Christina Marie, was born in 1983 in Miami. Trudeau and his wife later divorced.

Survived by:
Frances Marie Trudeau - Mother

his daughter, Christina Marie Trudeau, 12; his brothers, Joe Trudeau, 42, of Miami and George Trudeau, 41, of Miami; and his sister, Judy Trudeau Rescigno, 38, of Miami.


The F.H.P. traffic homicide investigation was conducted by Trooper Perry S. Allen. Frances was not ticketed at the scene but was charged after Trooper Allen's investigation and report. Tests at the scene indicated that Frances had been traveling at a minimum speed of 95 mph in the 55 mph zone. The case against Jesse Frances was continued until July 10, 1995, when he appeared before County Court Judge Teri Ann Miller. Frances pled no contest to the charge of careless driving and was adjudicated guilty. He received a maximum civil penalty of $500 and had to pay court costs of $109; was ordered to complete 120 hours (the maximum under the law) of community service at the emergency room at the Ryder Trauma Center; and his license was revoked for one year. Frances was accepted into the Advocate Program for supervision of his community service work. He is under a "stay of execution" by the court until Jan. of 1996.

Fatal Incident Summary
Offender: Jesse Frances
  
Location: FL   USA   Mon. Jan. 16, 1995
Summary: Dade County Corrections Officer Leonard Trudeau, 40, was struck and killed by an automobile after he had stopped to help the passengers of a disabled car on State Road 836 on Jan. 16, 1995. Trudeau became the fourth law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty who worked in corrections. The others were Dade County Jailer Gustav Kaiser (1895), Dade County Jailer Wilbur Hendrickson (1915) and FL Probation Supervisor Thomas Svenson (1982).

The tragedy occurred at 4:47A.M., on Monday morning, Jan. 16, 1995, a few minutes after Trudeau and fellow officer Carlos Marrero finished work at the Dade County Jail. The two officers were on their way home driving west on State Road 836 in Marrero's Isuzu Rodeo when they saw a disabled Honda in the middle of the road.

The driver of the Honda had been going too fast (later F.H.P. investigation said at a minimum 75 mph) when she lost control of her vehicle as she attempted to change lanes in a curve in the road approximately one-half mile before the Northwest 27th Ave. overpass. The Honda then hit the guard rail on the right of the road, caromed off the guard rail, and stopped (disabled) in the middle of the expressway. Martha Campos, 27, the driver, and her passenger, Leslie Martinez, 21, were hurt but were able to get out of the car (leaving it in the middle of the road) and walked to the shoulder of the road.

Officer Trudeau, always the Good Samaritan, saw the women signaling their distress and stopped a few yards past them. A second driver, William L. Thomas, 26, of Newark, N.J., also stopped to help. Thomas parked his Mercedes on the shoulder closer to the disabled Honda.

As Officers Trudeau and Marrero walked back to aid the two women, an Acura driven by Jesse Garfield Frances, 20, came along and, seeing the Honda disabled in the middle of the road and the people on foot ahead, slammed on his brakes losing control of his vehicle. The (later) F.H.P. investigation estimated that Frances was traveling at a minimum of 95 mph. His car went out of control and hit the guardrail, went into a spin and hit the Mercedes driven by Thomas.

The Acura hit the Mercedes just as Trudeau was walking in front of it and the Mercedes was forced forward 51 ft. by the impact and ran over him. Trudeau was thrown under the Mercedes. He was then drug 18 ft. as he was penned under the Mercedes. Fire Rescue arrived and was able to jack up the Mercedes to free Trudeau. Trudeau was then transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center. He had no vital signs upon arrival but was put on a respirator. A team of doctors and nurses worked frantically to save his life but were not able to do so. Leonard Trudeau was pronounced dead at 6:50A.M. The cause of death was given as blunt trauma due to "multiple injuries."

Several family members (his sister, Judy Rescigno, brothers, Joe and George Trudeau, and daughter, Christina) rushed to the hospital when they were informed of the accident. Judy and George arrived before his death and watched as doctors worked desperately to save his life. Leonard's girlfriend, an airline stewardess, was informed and flew in that afternoon from Mexico City.

Several of the 12 persons involved in the multi-car crash were "scratched and bruised while diving out of the way." Three other persons (Leslie Martinez, Campos' passenger, and two passengers in the Acura driven by Frances) were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Officer Trudeau's death was classified as "in the line of duty" since officers are pledged to "Protect and Serve" and Trudeau died trying to serve. In effect, he went "on duty" when he stopped to help the distressed motorists. Though technically off-duty at the time, his case is similar to that of Dade police officers who, though off-duty, went on-duty the moment they attempted to make an arrest (see the cases of Metro-Dade Officer Cheryl Seiden, 1982, and Coral Gables Officer Alfred Terrinoni, 1980, who were killed trying to make an arrest when "off-duty").

Disposition: Frances pled no contest to the charge of careless driving and was adjudicated guilty. He received a maximum civil penalty of $500 and had to pay court costs of $109; was ordered to complete 120 hours (the maximum under the law) of community service at the emergency room at the Ryder Trauma Center; and his license was revoked for one year. Frances was accepted into the Advocate Program for supervision of his community service work. He is under a "stay of execution" by the court until Jan. of 1996. Also, Frances was ordered to complete the maximum amount of traffic school (12 hours) for infractions and the conviction and points will appear on his driving record.

Source: Book       Excerpted in part or in whole from Dr. Wilbanks book-

FORGOTTEN HEROES: POLICE OFFICERS KILLED IN DADE COUNTY, FL, 1895-1995

by William Wilbanks

Louisville: Turner Publications

1996

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