A man suspected of driving under the influence of drugs when he fatally struck an off-duty fire captain riding a bicycle in Mission Viejo last week was charged with murder on Tuesday, according to Orange County authorities.
The felony murder charge filed against Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, was announced in a news release from the Orange County District Attorney and Sheriff's Department. If convicted, Scarpa faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.
Scarpa appeared in court on Tuesday, dressed in an orange jumpsuit and standing behind metal gating as his attorney stood before him and spoke with the judge. His bail has been set at $1 million.
The judge granted Scarpa's request to continue the arraignment to Nov. 30.
The deadly crash that killed Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Captain Mike Kreza happened just after 8 a.m. this past Saturday. The 44-year-old captain was an 18-year veteran of the department.
Scarpa was allegedly under the influence of "multiple controlled substances" when he was driving a van eastbound along Alicia Parkway near Via Burgos that morning, prosecutors and sheriff's officials said in the news release. Officials did not specify what drugs Scarpa is accused of consuming.
He is accused of driving the van into the bike lane and then onto the sidewalk before striking Kreza, officials said.
Kreza was left unconscious and suffering from severe trauma to his head and body, authorities said. He was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition.
Meanwhile, several prescription medications were found inside the driver's vehicle by investigators at the scene, according to authorities. A drug recognition expert from the Sheriff's Department arrested Scarpa after evaluating him.
His bail was set at $100,000 pending his Tuesday court appearance, records showed.
Hours after the crash, firefighters and sheriff's officials came together to hold a candlelight vigil for Kreza as he continued fighting for his life.
On Monday, Kreza died from his injuries. The longtime fire captain was married and had three daughters, authorities said.
A GoFundMe page his been set up for Kreza's family. The fundraising profile asks for privacy for his loved ones and has raised more than $144,000 after an initial goal of $25,000.
"Our brother, Mike Kreza succumbed to his injuries and passed away early this morning," the page reads. "Words alone cannot describe the immeasurable heartache felt by his friends & family, including his fire family.
Correction: A pervious version of this story incorrectly stated the date of Kreza's death. The post has since been updated.