The mother of a firefighter killed in a crash with a speeding driver wants to spread a message to others on the road: slow down and be careful behind the wheel.
“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 bare knowing someone said, ‘Yeah, I get it,’” said mother Jill Reid.
It’s been nearly four months since Reid’s son, U.S. Forest Service firefighter Darin Steffey, 37, was killed in a collision in Campo. For his grieving mother, time may have passed, but the pain of losing her son has not and never will subside.
“He was my gift in my life, and I just honor him,” said Reid.
On Oct. 3, 2013, Steffey was struck and killed while riding his motorcycle on Buckman Springs Road. He was on his way from work at the time of the accident. Steffey was also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver of the vehicle, 21-year-old 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.
Now, she faces a civil lawsuit for wrongful death filed by Steffey's parents, represented by attorney Dan Gilleon, who says when there's negligence, there's a price to pay.
The collision happened just a mile away from Steffey’s fire station. His colleagues were the first responders on scene – and have been by his family’s side ever since.
“They just loved on us. They still text me, ‘How are you, Mom?’ which is amazing,” said Reid. “They helped us survive those first 24 hours.”
Heartbroken, Reid is still trying to survive, still grieving the loss of her son – and of what could’ve been.
“There’s also the anticipatory grief of not having any grandchildren,” said Reid. “Not having his wedding to go to – instead, having to go to a memorial.”
A nurse for 40 years, 20 of them as an Emergency Room nurse, Reid is well aware of the pain, agony and suffering that can be caused by negligence.
So many lives changed, she says, on both ends.
“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.”
So, think, take 30 seconds to remind yourself that you are driving a lethal weapon. Don’t take it lightly, Reid said, because the aftermath is anything but light.