ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA (WAFB) - "Baton Rouge lost a great man today," a friend and former colleague said after hearing of the death of Anthony "Buddy" Amoroso, 61.
The East Baton Rouge Parish metro councilman was killed in a bicycle crash Saturday morning in St. Francisville that left Thomas Clement, 71, of St. Gabriel badly injured and resulted in the arrest of Nicholas Alexander, 21, of Lafayette.
Amoroso and Clement were biking along LA 66, west of LA 61, when they were hit from behind by a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe, Louisiana State Police reported. Troopers said Amoroso and Clement were in a single file and Alexander didn't slow down and move over.
Clement is Amoroso's friend, a man who frequently biked with him. Troopers reported he was taken to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center with serious injuries.
Troopers added the men were both wearing helmets and proper cycling attire.
Alexander was booked into the West Feliciana Parish Jail on charges of negligent homicide, negligent injuring, and limitations on passing bicycles.
Alexander He was released from jail on a $17,500 bond.
Amoroso's family released a statement Saturday afternoon:
A lifelong Baton Rouge resident, Amoroso was serving his second term on the council, having first taken office in 2013.
He was married and the father of three children including a son who is in the US Navy.
He represented District 8, covering areas between Coursey Boulevard and Airline Highway, South Sherwood Forest Boulevard and the South O'Neal Lane area.
A giant in the community with a heart of gold is how many described Amoroso. Colleagues and friends of the councilman said it's hard to find the right words to perfectly capture the impact of a man who meant so much to so many.
Former Metro Councilman John Delgado served four years on the council with Amoroso.
"Buddy and I were elected to the Metro Council together in 2012," Delgado said Saturday. "Although we didn't agree on every issue, I always had a profound respect for his dedication to our community. We were always able to find common ground because he truly cared for his constituents. Baton Rouge lost a great man today and I lost my friend. Please pray for his family and the many friends that loved him."
Councilwoman Tara Wicker also reflected on her colleague and his legacy. Wicker said Amoroso was one of a kind.
"Whether he agreed with you or not, he was always very truthful, so you knew where he stood on issues," she explained.
"When you talk about a leader, that's who you think about," said Councilman Dwight Hudson. "You think about Buddy Amoroso."
How do you wrap your mind around suddenly losing a colleague and friend?
"I think, initially, my reaction was just disbelief, hoping that that just couldn't possibly be true," Wicker replied.
"It's just so tragic. It's just a horrible, horrible thing," Delgado added.
Council members who have sat alongside Amoroso for years say he was the kind of guy who always kept his community top of mind.
"Buddy was a consensus builder. Buddy was definitely a convener. He wanted to make sure people had an opportunity to have their voices heard. He was very transparent, very truthful. So, whether it's good or bad. Whether he agreed with you or didn't, he was always going to be very truthful," Wicker stated.
"The best thing you can say about buddy was that he was just even-keeled," Hudson added.
A constant watchdog for the little guy, Amoroso even rode a CATS bus through Baton Rouge a few years ago with former Councilman John Delgado to understand the inner workings of the system.
"That's who Buddy was. That's what I hope his legacy is ... that he cared about the little guy," said Delgado.
"So, his heart was just about, 'How do I use this position, this time, this service to help other people?' And, that's how he lived," Wicker said.
That passion for the community translated into the relationships with his work family, often serving as a calming voice of reason.
"He had a unique ability, even in those stressful times, of just calming everybody down and just saying, 'Hey, guys. It's not that serious. Let's all just figure this out,'" Wicker added.
"So, you won't find a more vigorous person who's ready to represent constituents than Buddy Amoroso," Hudson stated.
Friends of the councilman said as a longtime servant of the community and as a forward thinker, they plan to continue Amoroso's legacy of putting the community first.
"Not some that's in it for the money or perks. He really did it just to help people. He had been doing that same role as a public voice, for all of his life," said Delgado.
"Just being able to honor everything that he represented is going to be really important for us as an entire community. To remember that he was one of the ones that did it well and did it right," added Wicker.
"I will dearly miss my friend and colleague," said Councilman Chandler Loupe. "Buddy was such a gentle kind-hearted friend who often would encourage me with a compliment or humor and sometimes both. He loved helping others and recognizing our armed forces and first responders. He always seemed to put others before him as a gesture of respect and humility. Qualities that he often shared with me while enjoying his love of music and art. My family will miss his smile and awkward laugh at times. He was a special person and God's gift to me by making him a part of my life. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. "
Mayor Sharon Weston Broome released the following statement on Amoroso's death:
"The VS Tour de Friends riders are heartbroken to learn of the loss of our friend, Buddy Amoroso," said Craig Brouillette, organizer of the Varsity Sports Tour de Friends. "We always enjoyed when Buddy joined us for training rides and we have great memories with him from last year's Texas Brotherhood Ride. Buddy was a faithful public servant and a great friend to many of us. We will miss him dearly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and our Baton Rouge community during this time."
Bike Baton Rouge released the following statement:
Amoroso was a deacon at Christ Presbyterian Church.
A graduate of Broadmoor High School, he was a licensed real estate broker with a degree in Business Administration from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa.
Amoroso previously served as an Assistant Scout Master for the Boy Scouts of America.