Sheriff unveils officers' monument
YATES COUNTY (5/25/16)--More than 80 people attended the unveiling of a new memorial to fallen Yates County officers Wednesday, May 18. The new monument is located outside the public safety building along Main Street in Penn Yan and honors the memories of four Yates County officers who fell in the line of duty. The officers include Dundee Constable Jay Close in 1910, Deputy Sheriff William Leach in 1957, Undersheriff Ralph Legg in 1958 and Trooper Ray Dodge in 1974.
The memorial monument was conceived and designed by Sheriff Ron Spike, was funded by private donations and created by Nielsen's Granite of Penn Yan. The names of the four officers are engraved on the front of the memorial stone, with Spike saying they sadly had to leave additional space on the bottom of the front and the back.
"I truly hope we never have to etch another name on this memorial," Spike said.
Close was 19 years old when he was appointed as a constable in 1910. Only hours after his appointment, Close responded to reports of a crazed man at a boarding house on Main Street. When he entered the doorway, the man pointed a shotgun at him, shooting Close as he tried to engage the suspect in a pacifying conversation. This was Close's first assignment. His killer was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Leach died in a car accident in 1957 while traveling from the Jerusalem town justice's home to get an arrest warrant for a suspect. While there, Leach received a call telling him to go to Soldiers and Sailors Hospital. As he traveled east on Sherman Hollow Road, he had to swerve to avoid two cars parked on the road with their lights out while the drivers held a conversation. Leach struck a tree head on, dyingtwo hours later at Soldiers and Sailors Hospital. Leach's mother died shortly after learning of her son's death.
Legg was a 20-year veteran of the sheriff's office at the time of his death. Legg succumbed to injuries he suffered in a car crash along Sherman Hollow Road as a passenger. His accident was only a few miles away from where Leach's crash was the year before. The patrol car was being driven by his brother Henry Leach, with the accident occurring when they rounded a curve and encountered a car and truck parked side by side exchanging keys with each other. The patrol car struck the truck and Legg was ejected out into the road, suffering a fractured skull and internal injuries. He died five days later.
Dodge was killed when responding to a dispute between two neighbors in Torrey. This was his second response there that day, having already put an end to a previous argument earlier that day. When he came back the second time entering one of the neighbor's houses, he was struck by a shotgun blast. Dodge returned fire with his weapon and was able to make his way to another home before being rushed to Soldiers and Sailors Hospital, where he later died.