El Cajon Victim of Bizarre Runaway Truck Crash Identified

David Sterner died trying to stop a truck after it began rolling down the hill in El Cajon

Family and friends say the Chula Vista man killed trying to stop a runaway pickup Monday night died a hero.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as 39-year-old David Sterner.

Strangers are now joining friends and family in recognizing Sterner's selfless act.

Candles and flowers were left at the ditch where the truck came to a halt and Sterner was killed.

Family members said Sterner was a roofer by trade--not wealthy but rich in spirit.

"He would do anything to help friends. He is always there for me,” said Celeste Amorsolo, Sterner's girlfriend of seven years.

She added that such was the case on Monday night. Sterner had been helping close friend Paul Lance with his broken truck.

"They were trying to switch the cars out of the driveway," neighbor Candice Hedrick said.

According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the engine wasn't running but the truck was in neutral when it began to roll down the steep exit of Los Coches Mobile Home Estates.

Sterner couldn't stop it but managed to get his hands on the wheel to steer it.

"He was holding on to that wheel because he didn't want it to go out of control and hit another trailer or perhaps a kid,” Hedrick said.

The truck rolled down the hill and slammed head on into a concrete culvert.

Amorsolo said she arrived later that evening to give Sterner a ride. She saw the crash but did not realize he was in it. 

"I'm really shocked right now. It's hard to accept that he is gone. Everything happened so fast,” Amorsolo told NBC 7.

Sterner was thrown from the truck and slammed into the ditch. Despite efforts to save him, the impact killed him.

"He's such a nice person. I just love him so much, it's hard to accept that he's gone,” Amorsolo said.     

Sterner is survived by his sister Sylvia who lives in Virginia. She told NBC 7 efforts are underway to retrieve his body and bury him in Delaware, where he grew up.

Sylvia is trying to raise enough money for the transport and Sterner’s funeral through an online fundraiser.

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