Leone honored with reef habitat

Christian Ayers

Ed Dendor, Jack Leone, Emily Leone, and Elizabeth Leone with the memorial Jesus statue. Photo courtesy TISIRI.org
Ed Dendor, Jack Leone, Emily Leone, and Elizabeth Leone with the memorial Jesus statue.
Photo courtesy TISIRI.org

John Leone’s family built a memorial reef on June 12 for the deceased UNF student. The artificial reef was built by Think It, Sink It, Reef It (TISIRI), and it features a statue of Jesus as the centerpiece.

Jack, Emily and Elizabeth Leone established the reef in honor of 19 year-old Leone, who died on April 9 after a hit-and-run accident. Leone’s father, Jack Leone, spoke with Joe Kistel, who helps run TISIRI operations, and asked for help in erecting the statue.

To Leone’s father, Jack, the memorial reef represents Leone’s positive relationship with the ocean and aquatic life.

The John C. Memorial reef Jesus statue. Photo courtesy of TISIRI.org
The John C. Memorial reef Jesus statue.
Photo courtesy TISIRI.org

“He loved to fish, to dive. He just loved life,” Leone said of his son.

The John C. Leone reef rests 70 feet below the ocean’s surface, 12 miles off of the Ponte Vedra Beach coast. Concrete blocks and a 1,000 pound Jesus statue were used as the foundation for the reef.

TISIRI has created more than 30 artificial reefs off of the northeast Florida coast. Artificial reefs stimulate marine life into making the ocean bed a more viable marine habitat. Volunteers and corporate supporters are both involved in building the reefs.

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