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Speeding Driver Who Killed Firefighter in Crash Gets 1-Day Sentence

Natasia Wood, 22, was speeding in Campo on Oct. 3, 2013, when she crashed head-on into off-duty firefighter Darin Steffey, 37, killing him in the accident

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 7 San Diego
    Natasia Wood, 22, was sentenced to one day behind bars on Aug. 29, 2014, for the Oct. 3, 2013, crash that killed U.S. Forest Service firefighter Darin Steffey, 37.

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

    Several months ago, Natasia Wood, 22, pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter in the death of U.S. Forest Service firefighter Darin Steffey, 37.

    On Friday, Wood was ultimately ordered to spend one day at Las Colinas Detention Facility for the deadly crash and was given three years of probation and community service in what a judge called a "very terrible, tragic, one-time mistake."

    Steffey's mother, Jill Reid, was overcome with emotion at Wood's sentencing. She spoke in court about everything Steffey's family will have to miss now that he's gone.

    "It means no wedding celebration, no grandchildren to love, no family gatherings that we would be a cherished part of," said Reid.

    The mother said she recently spent her son's birthday not celebrating with him, but rather visiting his gravesite at Miramar National Cemetery in "the most painful way imaginable."

    Steffey's sister, Heather Steffey, also addressed the court, speaking about how her only sibling's death has forever changed her life.

    “There is nothing in life that will ever be worse than losing my brother. He was my built-in best friend, family and support. [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," she said. "It has broken my life.”

    “I valued no person more on this Earth. That’s what you took from me," Heather added, holding back tears. "I wear my brother around my neck in an urn every day and sometimes hear his sweet voice joking around as we used to.”

    Steffey's girlfriend, Jessica Raddatz, also spoke at the sentencing. She said she and Steffey had planned to get married and some day start a family. Since losing Steffey to the deadly crash, Raddatz said she's suffered from depression and PTSD, and still can't believe he's gone.

    “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,” Raddatz said, sobbing.

    “The defendant killed a man. And it was so preventable,” a prosecutor told the court, speaking about the dangers of speeding.

    According to police, Wood was driving at more than 70 mph – about 15 miles over the posted speed limit – when she lost control and veered into northbound traffic lanes on Buckman Springs Road on Oct. 3, 2013.

    Wood’s vehicle collided head-on with Steffey, who was riding his motorcycle. He was killed in the accident.

    Steffey, also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former hotshot firefighter, was on his way home from work at the time of the deadly crash.

    The collision happened just a mile away from Steffey’s fire station. His colleagues were the first responders on scene.

    Wood's father, Carlos Wood, also spoke at Friday's sentencing. He said his daughter had been unexpectedly called into work on the day of the accident, which may have played a role in how rushed she felt as she drove.

    “I don’t justify speeding in any way, shape or form, but I believe this was an accident,” said Carlos.

    The defendant's father said his daughter feels extreme guilt for causing the crash and "wakes up in the middle of the night screaming because of what she did."

    Wood's attorney also told the court her client "regrets every day what she did, driving on that road too fast," and is truly sorry for taking Steffey from his family.

    Since the accident, Steffey’s family, girlfriend and friends have been working to get justice for their loved one.

    In January, Steffey’s mother spoke one-on-one with NBC 7 about her beloved son and urged others not to speed while driving.

    Steffey's loved ones maintain a Facebook group that follows their fight for justice in this case.

    Raddatz has also created a "Darin Steffey Roadside Memorial Fund," which collects donations to erect a permanent roadside memorial sign in Steffey's honor that will "remind others of the tragic consequences of reckless driving." To donate, click here.