The family of a firefighter killed in a high-speed crash in Campo last October is looking for justice – and fighting to keep their loved one’s memory alive.
Darin Steffey, 37, was struck and killed by a vehicle while riding his motorcycle on Buckman Springs Road. According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver of the vehicle, Natasia Wood, was speeding, driving at approximately 70 mph when the posted speed limit in the area is 55 mph.
Wood was charged with vehicular manslaughter and gross negligence in the deadly crash, and will face a judge on Tuesday. CHP officials say Woods was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is unknown if Woods was on her cell phone at the time of the fatal collision.
Since then, Steffey’s loved ones, including girlfriend Jessica Raddatz, say their lives have been turned upside down. Next week, a part of their closure will come from the courtroom.
“There needs to be consequences for your actions. You can’t just kill somebody, whether you’re drinking or not, when you’re going an excessive speed, it’s very dangerous,” said Raddatz.
But no matter what comes of the courtroom, for Raddatz, the pain of losing Steffey hasn’t gone away.
“This is one his fire jackets and his formal fire shirt,” she explained, showing NBC 7 San Diego some mementos she keeps close to her heart.
“It's a never-ending nightmare that you just want to wake up from and you wake up every morning, nope, this is happening. This is your life and he's not here, he's gone. And it sucks,” she added.
Steffey was a U.S. Forest Service firefighter, once a part of the Hot Shots, as well as a U.S. Air Force veteran.
Raddatz says she’ll never forget his kind, gentle ways.
“[He was] very charismatic, genuine, loving – very loving. He was always very affectionate with me. He always made me feel loved and goofy at times,” she said.
To keep her firefighter’s memory alive, Raddatz has created a Facebook page in honor of Steffey.
For her, the ultimate justice includes keeping Steffey’s memory alive. She wants people to always remember Steffey’s commitment to helping others.
“I want a roadside memorial and sign out on Buckman Springs Road for Darin,” she said.
For now, a makeshift memorial stands with a cross, signs and photos dedicated to Steffey. A memorial fund has also been established in Steffey's honor to help make that roadside memorial a reality.