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DAILY PILOT: Stretch of 55 Freeway will be named for late Costa Mesa fire captain

Excerpted from Los Angeles Times

By Hillary Davis

A 5-mile stretch of the 55 Freeway running through Costa Mesa will be named in honor of a city fire captain who died last year after being struck by an allegedly impaired driver.

The newly designated “Costa Mesa Fire Captain Michael Kreza Memorial Highway” will run from 19th Street to MacArthur Boulevard, thanks to a resolution the state Senate and Assembly passed this month.

Kreza, 44, of Rancho Santa Margarita was based at Costa Mesa Fire Station 6 near South Coast Plaza and was an 18-year veteran of the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department. He died Nov. 5, two days after being hit by a van while riding his bicycle off-duty in Mission Viejo. He is survived by his wife and three young daughters.

“The people of California have a special and enduring respect for the valiant individuals who daily commit themselves to the often perilous duties performed by firefighters, and the exceptional respect Fire Captain Kreza earned among his fellow firefighters and within the city of Costa Mesa bears testament to the positive impact he had in his community and in the lives of his fellow firefighters by virtue of his estimable character, leadership and sincere concern for others,” the Legislature-approved resolution states.

State Sens. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) and Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) sponsored the resolution, which passed the Senate without dissent Monday and likewise cleared the Assembly last Thursday. Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) was a co-sponsor.

The Costa Mesa City Council also unanimously backed the resolution in May.

The state Department of Transportation will use donated funds to erect signs showing the special designation. The cost is yet to be determined.

“Family, crew members and visitors to our city will always remember Mike Kreza,” the Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. wrote in a Facebook post about the resolution.

The man accused of driving the van that struck Kreza — Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, of Mission Viejo — is charged with one count of murder. He previously pleaded not guilty.

Sheriff’s deputies and a forensic toxicologist testified at a court hearing last week that Scarpa showed signs of impairment right after the crash, and tests showed he had several substances in his blood, including methamphetamine, painkillers and sedatives.