California Woman Gets One-Day Sentence For Crash That Killed Firefighter

| by Jared Keever

A California woman who pleaded guilty to causing a head-on crash that killed an off-duty firefighter last year will only spend one day in jail, a San Diego judge ruled Friday.

Natasia Wood, 22, will spend one day at the Las Colinas Detention Facility for her part in the October crash that killed 37-year-old U.S. Forest Service firefighter Darin Steffey. 

NBC-7 San Diego reports the judge also sentenced Wood to three years of probation and community service, calling the deadly accident a “very terrible, tragic, one-time mistake.”

The crash occurred on a curvy portion of Buckman Springs Road outside of San Diego. Police said Wood was driving her friend’s Dodge Durango at a little over 70 mph when the crash occurred. According to courtroom testimony, Wood lost control of the vehicle on a sharp left-hand curve and veered into oncoming traffic where she collided head-on with Steffey who was riding his motorcycle. He died at the scene. The posted speed limit on that stretch of road is 55 mph, according to Fox-5 San Diego.

A judge ruled in March that Wood would have to stand trial for a felony charge of gross vehicular manslaughter. 

“I'm relieved,” said Jessica Raddatz upon hearing the judge’s ruling. 

Raddatz was the 26-year-old girlfriend of Steffey. She said the couple planned to get married and start a family. 

“We've been waiting six months for this opportunity to have a preliminary hearing and we got the result that we wanted today. I want full felony and I want full gross negligence ... (Wood) took my whole world,” she told ABC-10 News

Steffey’s family spoke in court Friday, prior to Wood’s sentencing. 

“There is nothing in life that will ever be worse than losing my brother. He was my built-in best friend, family and support,” said his sister, Heather Steffey. “(His death) has crippled my existence, left me almost hysterical and unable to deal with the things that I used to be able to deal with.”

Wood’s father, Carlos Wood, also addressed the judge Friday and said his daughter was called into work the day of the crash and that was likely why she was speeding. He said his daughter feels extreme guilt for the crash and “wakes up in the middle of the night screaming because of what she did.”

Raddatz also spoke at the hearing. 

“My world no longer shines. There are days when I just lay on the couch. I may not have been on the back of that motorcycle but I may as well have been killed because (Wood) has killed me too,” she said.

Wood will serve her one day sentence October 3, 2014, the one-year anniversary of the crash.

Sources: NBC-7 San Diego, Fox-5 San Diego, ABC-10 News

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