Fire chief training for triathlon on his bike dies after being struck down by drunk van driver
Mike Kreza, a married father of three, had served in the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department for 18 years before his untimely death.
A 44-year-old fire captain from California, who had been training to take part in a triathlon, was killed in a tragic accident last week while he was riding a bicycle after being run over by a drunk van driver.
According to a press release by the fire & rescue department, the married father-of-three, Mike Kreza, was struck down in Mission Viejo on November 3. He had served in the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department for 18 years before his untimely death.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department said in a press release: "From initial witness statements, the driver of a van struck the victim while he was riding his bicycle eastbound on Alicia Parkway."
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.— Costa Mesa FD (@CMFD_PIO) November 5, 2018
No further information will be provided at this time.
RIP brother Mike, we love you! pic.twitter.com/g7IXcRDu48
Kreza was immediately taken to a nearby hospital after the crash with injuries to his body and his head. According to the Costa Mesa Fire Fighters Association, he had been in the middle of training for the IRONMAN triathlon set to take place in Arizona.
The driver of the vehicle that hit Kreza was identified as 25-year-old Stephen Taylor Scarpa. Online jail records state that he was arrested on November 3 for felony driving under the influence and is still in custody because of his $2 million bail.
Murder charges filed against man for driving under the unfluence and colliding with off-cuty costa Mesa Fire Capt. Mike Kreza, killing him. Suspect identified as Stephen Taylor Scarpa. @socalhokie @NBCLA pic.twitter.com/7FvZKO11Dt— Rosa Ordaz (@RosaNBCLA) November 6, 2018
Officials in the sheriff's office have said that right after the crash took place, Scarpa "remained at the scene and was evaluated for DUI by an OCSD deputy trained as a drug recognition expert. He is suspected to be under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of the collision and multiple prescription medications were in his vehicle".
A spokesperson for the OCSD told PEOPLE that the 25-year-old is set to be arraigned on November 13.
In a statement that was posted to Twitter on November 5, Kreza's fire department grieved his loss: "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. RIP brother Mike, we love you!" The department also held a procession for their fallen comrade from Mission Hospital to the OCSD.
*Captain Kreza Update*— Costa Mesa FD (@CMFD_PIO) November 4, 2018
Captain Mike Kreza is still unresponsive and in critical condition, the next several hours are critical.
Captain Kreza is surrounded by his family & friends, including his fire family. pic.twitter.com/r1OTrYZO6a
Before the fire chief passed away, the fire department had tweeted that he was "still unresponsive and in critical condition" and that "the next several hours are critical". The tweet continued: "Captain Kreza is surrounded by his family & friends, including his fire family."