Two young children in California looked on in horror as a car fatally struck their father just after he helped a group of ducks cross the street.
At around 8 p.m. last Thursday, 41-year-old Casey Rivara was driving home after picking up his two children from swim practice. At the intersection of Stanford Ranch Road and Park Drive in Rocklin, California, about 20 miles outside Sacramento, Rivara spotted a mother duck and several ducklings attempting to waddle across the street. That intersection is a high-traffic area, and both roads are at least four lanes wide and have a left-turn lane as well as a bike lane, so even human pedestrians wishing to cross the street there must proceed with caution. Likely with that situational awareness in mind, Rivara left his vehicle and went out to guide the ducks to safety.
"He got out of the car and was shooing the ducks and everyone was clapping because he was being really nice," recalled William Wimsatt, a 12-year-old witness who was so moved by Rivara's act of kindness that he snapped several photos of it on his cell phone.
Those photos now seem haunting. Just moments after they were taken, a 17-year-old female driver suddenly struck Rivara as he was attempting to return to his car. The force of the impact was so strong that Rivara's "shoes and one of his socks" landed "right in front of our car," said William, whose mother then raced to Rivara's car to console the man's devastated kids.
Rivara was pronounced dead at the scene, and the teen driver remained there as well and is reportedly cooperating with police. The investigation into the fatality remains ongoing. "We still have a lot of areas and evidence to sort through," said Rocklin police Capt. Scott Horrillo, "but at first look it does not look like there’s going to be any [charges for] criminal negligence."
"Both lives were ruined, his and the person who hit him," said Diane Myerson, who did not know any of those involved but who mourned Rivara's loss by placing flowers at a makeshift memorial established at the corner where he died.
Rivara, who died helping defenseless creatures, was known as a devoted family man. He and his wife, Angel Chow, were high school sweethearts who married and then had a son and daughter together. Rivara was also employed at Maria Montessori Charter Academy, though it is unclear what sort of job he had there.
"We have been deeply touched by the overwhelming love and support we’ve received for Casey Rivara and our family in these past few days," Chow wrote in a heartfelt Facebook post on Sunday night. "We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to all of you for the kind messages and gestures of kindness. It’s truly humbling to hear how Casey has positively impacted your lives, and we’re extremely grateful for that."
"It’s not fair," lamented William. "He was the only person to get out of the car and try and help them and probably the nicest person in the entire area."
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