Orange County prosecutors filed a murder charge Tuesday against a 25-year-old man who authorities say was driving under the influence of drugs when he struck an off-duty fire captain who was bicycling in Mission Viejo over the weekend.
The charge comes a day after Costa Mesa Fire and Rescue Capt. Mike Kreza, 44, died at Mission Hospital of injuries related to the crash.
Prosecutors say Stephen Taylor Scarpa was driving a van east on Alicia Parkway near Via Burgos when he drove into the bike lane, jumped the sidewalk and struck Kreza.
Kreza, an 18-year veteran of the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department, had been in training for Ironman Arizona, a triathlon consisting of a swim, bicycle ride and marathon, according to the firefighter’s union.
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 & Rescue said in a joint statement.
Prosecutors said deputies found several prescription medications in Scarpa’s vehicle and arrested him at the scene. He is being held in Orange County Jail in lieu of $2-million bail.
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.
“Words alone cannot describe the immeasurable heartache felt by his friends and family, including his fire family,” Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue wrote on Twitter on Monday. “RIP brother Mike, we love you!”
A GoFundMe page set up to support Kreza’s wife and three young daughters had raised more than $143,000 as of Tuesday.
If convicted, Scarpa faces up to 15 years to life in state prison, according to prosecutors.