A San Diego attorney killed in a rollover crash in Borrego Springs over the weekend had a big impact in the local community and statewide.
Raul Cadena, 49, died Saturday while on a Boy Scouts trip with his son. Officials say the driver of the SUV, in which Cadena was a passenger in the front seat, lost control and slammed into a tree in a ditch off the northbound lane of State Route 79.
NBC 7 learned that Cadena fought for workers’ rights in the courtroom and helped push for legislation in Sacramento.
On Thursday, Assemblywoman Toni Atkins adjourned the Assembly session in memory of Cadena.
Those close to Cadena told NBC 7 that he was respected and loved for his work in and outside the courtroom.
A friend and peer of Cadena’s said the father of two grew up in poverty but attended Harvard University and then UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).
“He was the most modest, least arrogant person you could imagine,” said Timothy Blood, friend and peer.
Blood said, at first, Cadena joined a law firm and represented large corporations, but he realized that it wasn’t what he wanted to do.
He described his friend as someone who was a champion for others.
“That’s who he is,” said Blood. “Raul was always there to represent the people who needed representation the most.”
Blood says San Diego's legal community is reeling and reflecting on not just the career, but also the life Cadena lived.
His family says, in lieu of flowers, people can make contributions to California Rural Legal Assistance, an organization seeking justice for migrant workers, which was a cause dear to Cadena.
A service is scheduled for Cadena on Saturday at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral on 2728 Sixth Avenue.