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Loved ones say felony charge proper for fatal motorcycle crash

The loved ones of 37-year-old Darin Steffey say they are seeking justice for his unnecessary and untimely death. They say they got a start on that score last week when a judge ordered the woman accused of killing him to stand trial for gross vehicular manslaughter.

In the wake of the hearing in El Cajon, Steffey's girlfriend told reporters that the felony charge is what she and members of Steffey's family had been hoping for. She said she has lost the person she expected to spend the rest of her life with and she continues to deal with excruciating pain every day as a result. She says her own life has been taken away from her.

The accident that killed Steffey happened on Oct. 3. Authorities say the U.S. Forest Service firefighter was riding his motorcycle on Buckman Springs Road when an SUV driven by a 22-year-old woman crossed into his lane and collided with him head-on. He was declared dead at the scene after having suffered an array of serious injuries including a broken back, ribs, pelvis and leg and multiple torn organs.

At the hearing this past Friday, an attorney for the accused woman argued that the case should not be charged as a felony, but rather a misdemeanor. She said her client had no prior record, was not on drugs or alcohol at the time and that the accident didn't rate as a case of gross negligence.

But prosecution witnesses testified that accident reconstruction work and the woman's own comments immediately after the crash indicated she was going more than 70 mph in the 55 mph zone when she lost control of her vehicle. In the end, the judge let the felony charge stand.

If convicted, the woman could face six years in prison.

Criminal charges are certainly one way for society to hold someone accountable for their actions. Often, though, criminal action comes up short on delivering the justice that victims' loved ones feel is deserved. In such instances, speaking with an attorney about a civil claim may be warranted.

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, "Trial ordered for woman in head-on crash," Dana Littlefield, March 21, 2014

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