Honoring the memory of local firefighter killed in wreck

As Jessica Raddatz watches happy couples take line dancing lessons at country-western bar In Cahoots, her mind takes her back to when she used to line dance here with the love of her life – boyfriend and firefighter Darin Steffey. It's something she will never do again.

Steffey was killed early last October. After leaving from his job with the Laguna Hotshots, he was struck head-on in Campo by a reckless driver. Steffey, who was riding his motorcycle, was killed instantly.

Tonight, Raddatz gathers with others to keep Stuffy's memory alive – to raise money to erect a permanent memorial to be placed on the spot where he took his last breath.

“I don't want him to ever be forgotten, that's the whole point of what I'm doing here tonight,” says Raddatz, “because he shouldn't have been killed, and he should be here with me tonight, country-line dancing.”

In Cahoots is where Jessica first met Darin. Saturday's fundraiser was her first time back since his death.

When she arrived, the first thing she saw was a special banner made in honor of Darin – causing her eyes to well up with tears. She didn't know were going to do that. “It was a surprise,” she says

But while it was a tough night, an even tougher week is ahead. On Wednesday, Raddatz will sit across from the 21-year-old woman police say killed her boyfriend.

Natasia Wood will be in court for her preliminary hearing. Prosecutors will tell a judge she was going 77 mph in a 40 mph speed zone when she crashed into Steffey.

Raddatz is doing what she can to cope. “I'm in a partner loss support group, I'm in a survivor of violent loss support group. I have amazing friends and amazing co-workers that constantly hold me up because I can't hold myself up right now.

“I'm going through therapy and I have friends to help me, but you know it's all because of one person who made a bad choice one day, and completely ruined my life and Darin's and hundreds of others as well.”

If you would like to support the memorial, visit the Darin Steffey Roadside Memorial Fund site at YouCaring.com to send a donation.


John Soderman

Categories: KUSI