Fort Myers, Florida (News-Press) -- One of Southwest Florida's leading meteorologists died Monday night after a bicycle crash in Estero.
Jim Reif, 61, of Estero sustained traumatic injuries to his head in a Sunday afternoon bicycle crash on Ben Hill Griffin Parkway. The WBBH NBC2 meteorologist had worked in the Southwest Florida television market for 35 years.
Reif, who began his Fort Myers career in 1979, spent 20 years at WINK News before joining Waterman Broadcasting in 1999 as the chief meteorologist for ABC7. He recently moved to NBC2.
Reif was known for pioneering a proactive hurricane awareness program with the National Hurricane Center. Residents also remember him for his weather reports during Hurricane Charley in 2004.
"The family asks that Jim's friends and fans keep Jim in their thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time," NBC2 posted on its website.
In addition to his TV role, Reif was the general manager of US Weather Consultants Inc., Southwest Florida's largest private weather consulting firm. His hurricane consulting services are used by city and county government as well as local school districts. The company's winter weather consulting for agriculture also provides area farmers with advice on frosts and freezes.
Reif, who recently announced his engagement during a weathercast, was riding his bike on Ben Hill Griffin Parkway on Sunday when he hit a sign and fell to the ground, NBC2 said. Reif suffered traumatic head injuries when his head hit the curb. It was not clear if he was wearing a helmet.
More than a dozen people have left comments on Reif's Facebook page.
"God bless you Mr. Reif, my prayers are with you," Englewood resident Henry Schmidt said. "I have watched you since your first days on WINK many decades ago. You are the best in this area and I've depended on you every day. May God watch over you and bring you through your time of need."
Reif was born and raised in Cherry Hill, N.J.