Man gets 15 years to life in prison for DUI crash that killed Costa Mesa fire captain

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Costa Mesa Fire and Rescue Capt. Mike Kreza is seen with his family in an image posted to GoFundMe on Nov. 3, 2018.

Costa Mesa Fire and Rescue Capt. Mike Kreza is seen with his family in an image posted to GoFundMe on Nov. 3, 2018.

A 28-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison for crashing into and killing an off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain in 2018.

The driver, Stephen Taylor Scarpa of Mission Viejo, was under the influence of narcotics at the time, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Scarpa was convicted in September of one felony count of second-degree murder for killing 44-year-old Costa Mesa Fire and Rescue Capt. Mike Kreza.

Around 8 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2018, Scarpa was driving eastbound on Alicia Parkway in Mission Viejo when he drove off the road near Alicia Parkway and Via Burgos. He crossed over the bike lane and onto the sidewalk where he struck Kreza, who was riding his bicycle in training for an Ironman triathlon.

Kreza, an 18-year veteran with the Fire Department, was taken to a local hospital. He suffered head and body trauma and died two days later.

Scarpa remained at the scene after the crash and was evaluated for DUI. He admitted to driving after having spent the prior three days ingesting controlled substances, officials said.

Kreza is survived by his wife and three daughters, who along with his sister, gave victim impact statements in court Friday, describing how their lives have been devastated by his death.

“Mike Kreza’s wife and his three young daughters have to live every day with the pain of his loss, and the pain they bravely expressed during their victim impact statements should haunt the defendant forever,” O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a written statement. “Nothing will bring Mike back, but I can only hope that his story – and the pain his family has to live with every day – prevents someone from making the same deadly decision to get behind the wheel while drunk or high on drugs.”

As a student at Esperanza High School in Anaheim, Scarpa had apparently participated in a program meant to warn students about the dangers of driving under the influence hosted by the Brea Police Department and the Anaheim Fire Department.

Scarpa was selected to be one of the students “killed” by an impaired driver, officials said.

“He was removed from the classroom, his obituary was read to his fellow students, and he was taken to an off-site location with the other students ‘killed’ by impaired drivers to hear testimonials from people whose lives had been impacted by driving under the influence collisions,” according to a news release from the District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors used that program experience to prove that Scarpa understood the dangers of driving under the influence and its potentially deadly consequences. 

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