After decades of service to the Baton Rouge community that spanned from the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council chambers to Boy Scout camps and touched countless lives in between, Anthony "Buddy" Amoroso IV was killed Saturday morning while doing something he loved — riding his bike in rural West Feliciana Parish.
Buddy Amoroso, a popular Baton Rouge metro councilman, was killed Saturday in a bicycle accident in West Feliciana Parish.
A man was arrested later Saturday after the SUV he was driving struck two bicyclists on La. 66, according to State Police. Amoroso, 61, was pronounced dead at the scene and Thomas Clement, 71, of St. Gabriel, was flown to the hospital with serious injuries.
Amoroso was serving his second term on the Metro Council, representing the southeastern part of the parish.
Police visited Amoroso's home to notify his family members Saturday afternoon. The news also spread quickly through Baton Rouge political circles as consultants and friends of Amoroso's said they were mourning the loss of a man committed above all to serving his community — someone whose clear conviction didn't interfere with his underlying tendency to befriend everyone, no matter their political leanings.
A lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, Amoroso also owned Prime Properties and was an avid bicyclist. He rode in a "pedaling for peace" bike ride around Baton Rouge just last week.
"I live in St. Francisville, and Buddy would often ride near my home, around my home, up and down our country roads, and he loved it so very much," said political consultant Mike Smith, Amoroso's friend of 25 years. "My soul is shattered, and I just can't even fathom it right now."
The crash occurred about 11:30 a.m. as Amoroso and Clement were riding eastbound on La. 66, also called Tunica Trace Byway, which runs from just north of St. Francisville to the main entrance of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The SUV struck the cyclists from behind while they were traveling in single file, according to State Police spokesman Senior Trooper Bryan Lee.
The driver of the SUV, Nicholas Alexander, 21, of Lafayette, was booked into West Feliciana Parish jail on counts of negligent homicide, negligent injuring and limitations on passing bicycles.
Two mangled bikes remained at the scene on the hot and sunny Saturday afternoon, marked off by orange spray paint just off the eastbound lane. State Police took over the investigation per protocol for a traffic fatality and troopers spent some time examining a white SUV with obvious damage to the passenger side headlight that was pulled over a short distance ahead of the bikes.
Helmets, water bottles and other supplies — including a peanut butter Clif bar and an energy drink — were strewn through the grass along the roadside. One of the helmets appeared to have been thrown about 15 feet from the bikes, which lay near the crest of a hill not far from the start of La. 66 north of St. Francisville.
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Amoroso is survived by his wife, Denise, three children and several grandchildren. Smith said they were the ones who inspired his tireless commitment to service.
"He wanted his grandchildren to stay in Baton Rouge and to choose to live in Baton Rouge, just like his children have done," Smith said. "That is what drove him every single day to try to make things better."
Amoroso's family issued a statement Saturday expressing their sorrow and thanking people for their compassion and support.
"Today, our family lost our rock and our community lost a servant," they said. "While our hearts are broken, we are lifted in spirit by the outpouring of support from far and near."
East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome also issued a statement shortly after Amoroso's death was publicly announced saying he "was a colleague and a friend, and a true example of a dedicated public servant."
She said his loss will be felt throughout the parish and by the constituents he served in his district. She also ordered flags at all public buildings throughout the parish to be flown at half staff for the coming week.
Amoroso, a Republican, first took office in 2013 and won re-election in 2016. He served on the Baton Rouge Airport Commission and helped to establish a "Smart City Committee" in Baton Rouge aimed at making the city-parish more technologically advanced.
Amoroso was known as a strong supporter of law enforcement, the military and the Boy Scouts of America. He led the charge last year to designate Jones Creek Road as a "purple heart trail" in honor of veterans and those wounded during military service. He frequently invited military veterans to Metro Council meetings to commemorate their military service.
Tyrone Black, of the Istrouma Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said Amoroso was important to local troops. He stepped down as scoutmaster for the Trinity Lutheran troop when his son received his Eagle badge but had remained in close touch with the council. Black said Amoroso still loved helping young men collect their merit badges and would teach them about all aspects of scouting from camping to citizenship — a badge he was uniquely qualified to teach about as a local politician.
Amoroso spoke openly at Metro Council meetings about dyslexia, as he honored those who persevered with the reading disorder and spoke about his own triumphs while facing it. He also recently created a "litter pickup challenge" where he shot videos of himself speedily picking up trash on a roadway and challenging other politicians to do it faster.
In the past few days, Amoroso told reporters he was about to head to Michigan for a vacation with his family. But the bike crash happened before he left.
The group Bike Baton Rouge issued a statement Saturday expressing condolences for the loss of an active member of the bicycling community and noting that the area where the crash occurred is a popular location for bicyclists from across the capital region, "as the rolling hills, the scenic views, and the low levels of traffic make for excellent biking." The group also noted that another person was killed while riding in that area in 2015: LSU professor Elisabeth Oliver.
Amoroso was a deacon at Christ Presbyterian Methodist Church, and he served as chairman of the Baton Rouge Apartment Association.
Association Executive Director Chandra Giambrone said Ambroso was an advocate for both property owners and tenants. He fought 20 years ago to make sure the city-parish was charging multifamily residences fair rates for trash pickup, and he was now trying to do the same for water service.
Former city-parish Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel said Amoroso was known for always sharing a friendly smile and a kind word with everyone in City Hall, regardless of whether they were on the same political team.
"Even though we only agreed maybe just 90 percent of the time, I always thought he was trying to do the right thing," Daniel said.
Lionel Rainey III, another longtime friend and consultant, said Amoroso "never met a stranger," but most of all, he "loved God and his family."
"He was a good man," said East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wilson. "He stood up for his constituents,"
Amoroso wasn't afraid to voice his convictions, even when he knew he would be on the losing side of a vote, Wilson said. Nevertheless he was a friend to everyone whether in council chambers or at an LSU tailgate.
Former District 8 Councilman Mike Walker said serving as a metro councilman wasn't work to Amoroso. Walker said he was pleased to see Amoroso take his seat when he left office after serving the maximum number of terms.
Dwight Hudson, a fellow councilman and real estate professional, said that as a freshman councilman Amoroso was always the first and last person he'd call to talk through tough votes. The two men met years ago when both worked on Tax Busters, an advocacy group that organized opposition to new taxes.
"This is such a big loss for all of Baton Rouge," Hudson said. As a husband, father and community leader "Buddy Amoroso is the best example of what it means to be a man."