An off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain who was hit over the weekend while riding his bicycle by a driver suspected of being under the influence of drugs has died, fire officials said Monday.
Capt. Mike Kreza was riding his bicycle east on Alicia Parkway in Mission Viejo about 8 a.m. Saturday when a van struck him. When sheriff’s deputies arrived, Kreza was lying in the roadway, unresponsive, “with visible head and body trauma,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Costa Mesa Fire and Rescue said in a joint statement.
“Words alone cannot describe the immeasurable heartache felt by his friends and family, including his fire family,” Costa Mesa Fire and Rescue wrote on Twitter on Monday. “RIP brother Mike, we love you!”
Kreza was an 18-year veteran of Costa Mesa Fire and Rescue. Kreza had been unresponsive and was listed in critical condition over the weekend before he died Monday. He was surrounded by family and friends, according to the Fire Department.
The Costa Mesa Fire Fighters Assn., the firefighters’ union, wrote on Facebook that Kreza was in training for Ironman Arizona, a triathlon consisting of a swim, bicycle ride and marathon.
Costa Mesa fire and police officials and hospital staff gathered outside Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo on Monday morning as Kreza’s body was loaded into a white van to be taken to the county coroner’s office in Santa Ana. Two motorcycle officers led the van away from the hospital.
Firefighters stopped on several freeway overpasses, climbed to the top of their trucks and saluted to pay their respects to their fallen friend as the van made its way through Orange County.
Costa Mesa community members, some of whom had never met Kreza, dropped off flowers and cards at fire stations in his memory. The firefighter’s death was also met with an outpouring of support from fire and police agencies across the state.
“He was a hero and passed away too early in life,” a Laguna Beach Police Department statement Monday on Twitter said. “Our hearts go out to his family and the Costa Mesa Fire Department.”
A GoFundMe page set up to support Kreza’s wife and three young daughters had raised more than $96,000 as of Monday.
Authorities said the driver of the van, Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, of Mission Viejo, had “multiple prescription medications” in his vehicle. Scarpa was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence and was booked into the Orange County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.
10:45 a.m.: This article was updated with information about the procession from the hospital and a GoFundMe page set up for Kreza’s family.
This article was originally published at 7:35 a.m.