The driver suspected of being under the influence of drugs when his van hit and fatally injured an off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain was charged with murder Tuesday, authorities said.
Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, of Mission Viejo faces the enhanced charge from the felony driving under the influence allegation he was booked on over the weekend.
If convicted, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years to life in state prison, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.
Scarpa was driving a van on Alicia Parkway in Mission Viejo at about 8 a.m. Saturday when it went into the bicycle lane and struck Capt. Mike Kreza, 44, who was riding his bike, the district attorney’s office said.
Kreza, who was rendered unconscious with severe head and body trauma, was taken to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where he died Monday morning, authorities said.
Scarpa remained at the scene, where he was evaluated by Orange County Sheriff’s Department drug recognition experts before being arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence, the district attorney’s office said.
Authorities said Scarpa had “multiple prescription medications” in his vehicle. He was booked into Orange County Jail on Saturday with bail set at $100,000.
The district attorney’s office has recommended that bail be set at $2 million, according to court documents.
Kreza, an 18-year veteran of the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department, was stationed at Fire Station 6 on Sakioka Drive. He was training for an Arizona Ironman event — a triathlon consisting of a swim, bicycle ride and run — when he was hit, according to the Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn.
Kreza’s body received a police and fire procession Monday from the hospital to the county coroner’s office in Santa Ana.
A fund to help Kreza’s wife and three daughters was set up over the weekend at gofundme.com/the-kreza-family-fund. As of Tuesday afternoon, the fund had raised about $148,000, easily surpassing its $25,000 goal.