FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – On Tuesday, Fresno and Santa Barbara first responders escorted the casket of a Santa Barbara firefighter who died after crashing into a tree while skiing at China Peak.
“When you think of the best person in your organization, the one person that will do anything for anyone in a moment’s notice, help anyone, he is that person,” said Santa Barbara Batallion Chief Anthony Stornetta.
Six members of the Santa Barbara Fire Department lifted Joseph De Anda’s casket into a Santa Barbara Sheriff’s vehicle to bring him home to the Central Coast from Fresno.
De Anda leaves behind a grieving family and fiance.
“They are doing okay, but as you can tell, they are in shock right now,” said Stornetta.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Fresno CalFire and the Fresno Fire Department assisted with the beginning of the procession from Fresno to the Central Coast to pay respect for De Anda.
De Anda tragically passed while skiing at China Peak after officials said he crashed into a tree. Investigators said De Anda was wearing a helmet.
“He brought life to everything, he was everyone’s best friend, and this is a horrible tragedy that this happened,” said De Anda’s fellow EMT Jay Faulkenberry.
De Anda was well known in the Santa Barbara community for his work not only as a firefighter but as an EMT and a Sheriff’s dispatcher.
Stornetta said there is a huge void now in the department but said they are thankful for the support from Fresno.
“This was not expected but is above and be all,” said Stornetta. “And from myself and our Fire Chief back home, our hearts are totally full, and thanks for the support from over here.”
China Peak said this is the second time in the last 12 years that someone has passed from crashing into a tree.