A woman accused of causing a crash that killed an off-duty firefighter in Campo last year will stand trial, a San Diego judge ruled Friday.
Defendant Natasia Wood, 22, will now go to trial on a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter in the death of U.S. Forest Service firefighter Darin Steffey, 37. If convicted, Wood faces a maximum of six years in prison.
According to police, Wood was driving at more than 70 mph – about 15 miles over the posted speed limit – when she lost control and veered into northbound traffic lanes on Buckman Springs Road on Oct. 3, 2013.
Wood’s vehicle collided head-on with Steffey, who was riding his motorcycle. He was killed in the accident.
Steffey, also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former hotshot firefighter, was on his way home from work at the time of the deadly accident. The collision happened just a mile away from Steffey’s fire station. His colleagues were the first responders at the scene of the tragic crash.
Since the accident, Steffey’s family, girlfriend and friends have been working to get justice for their loved one.
In January, Steffey’s mother, Jill Reid, spoke with NBC 7 about her beloved son and urged others not to speed while driving.
“I grieve. She [the driver] will grieve the rest of her life. I know that, but you can't take it back. Once it's done it's done and no amount of agony on her part or anyone else's can change it,” said Reid. “So we have to think when we get in the car – that’s all it is.”
“I would feel like my son did not die needlessly and in vain if one person said, ‘I can do that, I can follow the law, I can honor the law.’ That would really make it a little easier to bear knowing someone said, ‘Yeah, I get it,’” she added.
At the time, Reid also told NBC 7 she was filing a civil lawsuit against Wood for negligence behind the wheel.
Wood is scheduled to appear in court again Apr. 22. Her trial is set to begin May 5.
In court on Friday, Steffey’s family said they were relieved the case was going to trial, something they had been waiting and hoping for a long time.
Steffey's loved ones maintain a Facebook group that follows their fight for justice in this case.
His girlfriend, Jessica Raddatz, also created a "Darin Steffey Roadside Memorial Fund," which collects donations to erect a permanent roadside memorial sign in Steffey's honor that will "remind others of the tragic consequences of reckless driving." To donate, click here.