His family says it's no surprise that Casey Rivara’s final act was one of compassion. When he spotted a mama duck trying to guide her ducklings across a busy California intersection, Rivara stopped his car at a red light and got out to help them make it to safety.
Rivara made sure traffic in all directions was stopped, witnesses said, then escorted the duck and her babies to the other side of the street around 8:15 p.m. last Thursday in suburban Rocklin, northeast of Sacramento.
“All the ducks made it safely across,” said 11-year-old Jude Peterson, who was watching with a carpool group after track practice. “He did something amazing.”
His good deed done, Rivara was walking back to his car when another vehicle came through the intersection and struck him. He flew through the air and landed in the street. The 41-year-old father of two died at the scene.
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“Casey was the kindest, 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 by Tuesday afternoon.
“The family is trying to figure out how to recover and keep going after this immense 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, said Rocklin police Capt. Scott Horrillo. Detectives are still interviewing witnesses and reviewing video, he said, but it doesn't appear the teen driver will face charges.
“Right now, we don’t have any reason to believe there was any criminal negligence,” Horrillo said Monday. He called it a tragic accident.
Flowers adorned a growing memorial to Rivara at the accident site on Tuesday in Rocklin, a city of about 73,000 people. Somebody also left several toy rubber ducks.
Casey was married to Angel Chow, his high school sweetheart. The inseparable pair 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 remain 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 impact other children.”
His wife said the family has been touched by the outpouring of love and support from family, friends, co-workers and community members.
“It’s truly humbling to hear how Casey has positively impacted your lives, and we’re extremely grateful for that,” Chow wrote Monday on Facebook.
She said she planned to compile the tributes in a book “that our children can turn to whenever 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 filled with admiration for Rivara.
“He did the right thing," Jude said. "He wanted to help because there were ducks in the road, and he didn’t want anyone to hit the ducks.”