After initially thinking he may have been the victim of a hit and run, Montgomery County police have ruled a beloved employee of a Chevy Chase Village church died of natural causes.
59-year old Colbert Pleze of Southeast Washington was pronounced dead at the hospital Thursday after police and medics found him lying bleeding outside an entrance to All Saints Episcopal Church on Chevy Chase Circle.
All Saints Church Rector Ed Kelaher says Pleze had been a sexton at the church for around 20 years.
"People loved him," Kelaher said. "He was a servant of God in this place. Sang, whistled, enjoyed life every day he was with us, and we're heartbroken to lose him."
Police say Pleze would often wash his BMW after finishing his work day at the church. They say he was doing so Thursday afternoon when he had a "medical event" which was not identified.
The medical problem left Pleze bleeding heavily in one leg. When police and medics arrived they found blood near Pleze's driver's side door as well as other areas closer to the church building.
Because of all the blood, police say they initially believed Pleze may have been the victim of a hit and run driver.
But they later determined there was no foul play involved and that Pleze had died of "natural causes."
Pleze was such a fixture at the church that he'd even gotten to know nearby residents who don't go to All Saints. They all had nothing but kind words to say to ABC7.
"Very thoughtful of others all the time, always looking for ways to help," Chevy Chase Village resident Rob Josephs said of Pleze.
Josephs says Pleze had once gone out of his way to help him when he was concerned about the church's bells waking up his kids at night at Christmas.
Neighbors say they'd often talk to Pleze while he'd work outside maintaining the church's property. They say he was always friendly and kind.
Kelaher says he's trying to comfort the church's members by encouraging them to be grateful for the years they had with Pleze.
"To thank God that he was in their life," Kelaher said. "And to know in their hearts they'll see him again."