Daniel Leach had thought about switching to another unit at the Metropolitan Police Department.
But that would mean he wouldn’t be able to be with his family as often.
So for 25 years the corrections officer worked at the Laughlin Tucker Holding Facility, working early-morning shifts that allowed him to be home every night with his family — and with the kids he coached.
Basketball, and coaching, was his passion.
“It was like I wasn’t his only son,” Leach’s 19-year-old son, Christopher, said Sunday. “It was like he had 12 kids all the time.”
Leach, 49, died Saturday morning in a crash along a stretch of U.S. Highway 95 near Searchlight. The Metropolitan Police Department lost its fourth officer this year, and a family lost a father.
His family and friends gathered at his Boulder City home on Sunday to remember the family man, competitor, and occasional “ham.”
“He was a wonderful, wonderful person,” said state Assemblyman Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, who played team basketball with Leach for more than 15 years. “I treasure the moments I had with him.”
His wife, Laura, said her husband was always up for anything. When his daughter, Alexandra, performed in the Boulder City Ballet Company’s production of “The Nutcracker” in 2002, he volunteered to don a top hat and cape and play the character Drosselmeyer, whose toys in the play come to life.
“He wasn’t very graceful out there,” she laughed.
Leach was born and raised in Willoughby, Ohio, where he met Laura. Their families were close friends, and Leach and Laura had known each other since childhood. After his family moved to Shreveport, La., the two began long-distance dating when they were 17.
They moved to Boulder City in 1983 and were married in 1984.
He had always been fond of children. Laura said he was almost like a “pied piper” for neighborhood children.
“They’d knock on the door and say, 'Can Mr. Dan come out and play?’ ” she said.
He was friendly with everybody, his family and friends said. He was known to pick up hitchhikers, drop them off at a nearby gas station and give them five dollars. Once, his wife walked into the room while he was on the phone with someone. From the sound of the conversation, she thought he was on the phone with a close friend. It was an AT&T call center worker.
“The joke was, he’s never known a stranger,” she said.
Leach, as he often did, was driving south in a Police Department van to pick up inmates at the jail in Laughlin and transport them to the Clark County Detention Center, when he died.
The van collided with the back of a tractor trailer that was making a left turn onto northbound 95 about 5:45 a.m. His son said his father had just driven over a hill and probably couldn’t see the truck until the last second. His family said they were certain he was wearing his seat belt; he wouldn’t leave the driveway without putting it on.
Leach coached at least 20 different teams — from basketball to T-ball — over the years. Several of the children he had coached, including his son, were on Boulder City High School’s state championship basketball team this year.
Christopher, a freshman majoring in finance at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he had always entertained thoughts about going into law enforcement. His dad, however, had encouraged him to try something that promised better pay.
“He just wanted it to be easier for me,” he said.
But after his father’s death and after seeing how the department came together to help his family, he is going to seriously consider it.
“To me, he was a champ,” Christopher said. “He was my hero.”
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0440.