Family members of a California man said it was no surprise his final act was one of compassion, after he exited his car at a busy intersection in order to help a mother duck and her ducklings cross the road but was himself struck and killed.
When he spotted the ducks, Casey Rivara stopped his car at a red light and got out to help them. 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 8.15pm last Thursday in Rocklin, north-east of Sacramento.
“All the ducks made it safely across,” said Jude Peterson, 11, who was watching with a carpool group after track practice. “He did something amazing.”
Rivara was walking back to his car when a vehicle came through the intersection and struck him. The 41-year-old father of two flew through the air and landed in the street. He died at the scene.
“Casey was the kindest, most amazing husband and father,” his aunt, Tracey Rivara, wrote on a verified GoFundMe page raising money for his widow and their 11-year-old daughter and six-year-old son. Nearly $90,000 was raised by Tuesday afternoon.
“Even his last act in this world was a sign of his compassion,” Tracey Rivara added. “The family is trying to figure out how to recover and keep going after this immense loss.”
The driver of the car that hit Rivara, a 17-year-old girl, remained at the scene and was cooperating with investigators, said Scott Horrillo of the Rocklin police. Detectives were interviewing witnesses and reviewing video, he said, but it did not appear the teen driver would face charges.
“Right now, we don’t have any reason to believe there was any criminal negligence,” Horrillo said, calling it a tragic accident.
Flowers adorned a growing memorial to Rivara on Tuesday in Rocklin, a city of about 73,000 people. Someone also left several toy rubber ducks.
Rivara was married to Angel Chow. They met aged 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 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 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”. His mother, Summer Peterson, said he 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.”