Longtime journalist and TV anchor Leslie Griffith has died after a battle with Lyme disease. She worked as an anchor for more than 20 years with KTVU Channel 2. The station reports that Griffith died Aug. 17 in Lake Chapala, Mexico. She spent much of her 22-year career at KTVU, alongside veteran anchor Dennis Richmond. Before becoming an anchor, Griffith was a reporter, covering everything from crime to other local news happenings. She was beloved for her live broadcasts. She could work off-script, running from one source to another, asking the right questions of newsmakers, experts, and her journalist peers.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Deer ticks can also carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It causes a rash, often in a bull's-eye pattern, as well as flu-like symptoms, and potentially joint pain and weakness in the limbs. Most people with Lyme disease recover completely with antibiotic treatment. Others may experience more severe side effects.
Prior to television, Griffith worked for the Associated Press and The Denver Post. even after becoming an anchor, she continued writing for the likes of the Huffington Post and San Francisco Chronicle. She was also an animal rights activist. Griffith grew concerned with the tuberculosis issue in circus elephants and she championed getting elephants out of circuses. In 2005, she founded the Leslie R. Griffith Woman of Courage Scholarship to help young women.
A family member says Griffith became infected with Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick while living in Oregon in 2015. She had a home in Mexico and lived there since 2016.
The industry is mourning her death, especially those who worked with her at KTVU. "This is shocking news. I mean, this is someone I had known for, you know, past 25 years or so," said former KTVU reporter John Sasaki. He now works as a spokesperson for Oakland Unified School District. "She was one of those really vibrant, vivacious, you know, very alive people. You always knew that she was there. She was just this really powerful figure in the newsroom."
Sasaki commended Griffith for being able to relate to audiences and being a great storyteller. "I remember her before I joined KTVU. I remember watching her. It's one of those voices that you always connect with. I mean, Elaine Corral is another one, Dennis Richmond is another one…these people who are just kind of legendary in the KTVU family. Those are people that you don't forget," said Sasaki.
Griffith is survived by her two daughters, Trenton and Carly, a son, Eric, and two grandchildren. She was 66.