ROCKLIN, Calif. (AP) – His family says it’s no surprise that Casey Rivara’s last act was one of compassion. When he saw a mother duck trying to guide her ducklings across a busy intersection in California, Rivara stopped his car at a red light and got out to help them get to safety.
Rivara brought traffic in all directions to a halt, witnesses said, then escorted the duck and her babies across the street about 8:15 p.m. last Thursday in suburban Rocklin, northeast of Sacramento.
“All the ducks made it over safely,” said 11-year-old Jude Peterson, who was watching with a carpool group after track practice. “He did something amazing.”
His good deed, Rivara was walking back to his car when another vehicle came through the intersection and hit him. He flew through the air and landed on the street. The 41-year-old father of two died at the scene.
“Casey was the best, most amazing husband and father. Even his last act in this world was a sign of his compassion,” his aunt, Tracey Rivara, wrote on a verified GoFundMe page raising money for his widow and their 11-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son Nearly $90,000 was raised Tuesday afternoon.
“The family is trying to figure out how to recover and move on from this tremendous loss,” his aunt wrote.
The driver of the car that hit him, a 17-year-old girl, remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators, Rocklin Police Capt. Scott Horrillo said. Detectives are still interviewing witnesses and reviewing video, he said, but it does not appear the teen driver will face charges.
“Right now we have no reason to believe there was any criminal negligence,” Horrillo said Monday. He called it a tragic accident.
Flowers adorned a growing memorial for Rivara at the crash site Tuesday in Rocklin, a city of about 73,000 people. Someone also left several toy rubber ducks.
Casey was married to Angel Chow, his high school sweetheart. The inseparable couple met at age 17 when she arrived at his high school as an exchange student from Hong Kong, according to the GoFundMe page.
“His family was Casey’s world, and to stay even closer to them, he had recently started working at their children’s school,” Tracey Rivara wrote. “He loved working at the school as he was able to positively influence other children.”
His wife said the family has been touched by the outpouring of love and support from family, friends, colleagues and community members.
“It is truly humbling to hear how Casey has positively impacted your lives and for that we are extremely grateful,” Chow wrote Monday on Facebook.
She said she planned to compile the tributes into a book “that our children can turn to when they miss him.”
Jude Peterson, the young witness, said he was “in shock and so scared” after witnessing the tragedy. His mother, Summer Peterson, said Jude was in tears when he got home that night.
By Monday, his mother said, Jude had processed his shock and was full of admiration for Rivara.
“He did the right thing,” Jude said. “He wanted to help because there were ducks on the road and he didn’t want anyone to hit the ducks.”
Weber reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York.