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Memorial Service Held for Costa Mesa Fire Captain Who Died After Being Hit by Van

November 16, 2018 - 11:25 am
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(KNX 1070/CNS) --  A memorial service is underway at this hour for Costa Mesa Fire Captain Mike Kreza, who died after being hit by a van while riding his bicycle. 

Lots of relatives, friends, and fellow firefighters from across Southern California have turned out for the solemn gathering at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest.

Kreza was off-duty at the time of the crash. He survived the initial impact but died of his injuries two days later. The young man behind the wheel of the van is facing a wide range of charges including driving under the influence of drugs.

 

Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, from Mission Viejo was charged with Kreza's murder for allegedly driving under the influence of drugs and colliding with the off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain who was bicycling in Mission Viejo on Saturday.

Typically, a deadly collision for a defendant without a prior DUI conviction would lead to a gross vehicular manslaughter charge, but prosecutors can upgrade the charge if the motorist has been given a specific admonition on the dangers of drinking and driving that leads to a death.

Scarpa faces up to 15 years to life in prison if convicted of second- degree murder. A gross vehicular manslaughter conviction does not carry a life sentence.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Feldman declined to comment on why prosecutors elected for the murder charge at this time.

Scarpa was driving a van east on Alicia Parkway near Via Burgos when he allegedly struck the 18-year veteran fire captain about 8 a.m. Saturday, according to Carrie Braun of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Kreza, who was rushed to an area hospital in critical condition, was pronounced dead Monday morning.

Sheriff's investigators found several prescription medications in the van, Braun said.

"Our brother, Mike Kreza, passed away early this morning. Words alone cannot describe the immeasurable heartache felt by his friends & family, including his fire family," according to a Twitter post from the Costa Mesa Fire Department. "RIP brother Mike, we love you!"

The twitter feed later added that the department "is overwhelmed with the love & support from our collective communities."

Kreza's body was escorted in a solemn procession Monday morning from Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo to the Orange County coroner's office.

Kreza, a married father of three daughters, was training for a triathlon when he was struck by the van.

A GoFundMe page set up to raise money for the family had raised about $108,000 as of midday Monday, well over the $25,000 goal. The money is designated for the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association's Widows and Orphans Fund.

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