There are some people who leave a lasting impression that never seems to fade even after they have died.
Many people in the Rancho Niguel community will tell you that their dear friend, 48, was one of those people who shined and continues to shine even though she has been gone for more than six months.
Steves' death made national news as she was trying to rescue a dog at the time of the accident. She received a posthumous award from for her act of kindness.
Laguna Niguel Patch talked with several of her friends about how they were coping more than six months after her tragic death. While many of them were fine sharing their thoughts, they said the inquiry opened painful wounds.
"Though it's been more than six months since the passing of my dear friend Mara Steves, it seems like only yesterday that Mara's family and friends received the devastating news of her untimely death," said Terri DeGroote.
DeGroote added that it has been very difficult for everyone she knows and extremely difficult for herself.
"I continually forget she is gone and while gardening in the front yard, I expect to see her drive by and shout, 'Hey momma, what's up?' She had a way of sneaking up on me and always making me laugh, and brightening my day. I miss her every day. Although very sad, her passing has had an illumination on my life and the lives of others."
DeGroote said many of Mara's friends have all have slowed down, reconnected, and strived to make each day count as if it were their last.
"For me, nothing is taken for granted anymore and my family and I make sure we are giving back to our community what we have so richly received. Thank you, Mara for waking up our souls and teaching us what is important. We love and miss you each day!"
Easy to Love, Hard to Say Goodbye
Another friend of Mara's, Gina Huntley, said Mara was an easy person to like and she was full of energy, and always smiling.
"She was always up to something and everyone wanted to be a part of whatever that something was. I have thought of her hundreds of times since that tragic Sunday in February. I miss her and pray for her family each and every day."
And longtime friend said, "All I can say is that I miss her every day. I don't have my best friend to get through the everyday ups and downs of my life. I look out my window every day at her house…waiting for her to come home. I still cry an awful lot.
"Our neighborhood is so quiet without her," she continued. "She loved our community so much and took great pride in being our association president."
As for the Steves family—husband , Laguna Niguel Patch respected their privacy, and did not try to contact them directly.
Elizabeth said, "John and the kids are doing as expected."
More Friends Speak Out
One of Mara's closest friends at where Mara spent a lot of time, was principal .
"From a personal standpoint, Mara was bigger than life. She used to walk through the front door of the school office with boundless energy and she'd have us laughing within a half-second of seeing her," Scholl said. "I miss her infectious personality; I miss her opinions on our school because they always came from her heart as she was thinking about the kids; in all, I just miss Mara. The gifts that she gave to all of us and to our school will never be forgotten."
Moving Out of City
As for the man who at the accident site, Tim Benner, he and his family took Mara's accident extremely hard.
"As far as the Benners, we took the accident to heart and are moving this week to San Juan Capistrano—we targeted low/slow traffic cul-de-sac locations and we found such a place in an area called Hidden Mountain," he said. "The cul-de-sac we are on has just five houses and the entire development has speed bumps throughout.
"We have had a few minor incidents of cars speeding 50 miles per hour ore more down our Laguna Niguel residential street and most of our neighbors believe that, some day, something bad will happen," he continued. "So, in a sense, Mara's tragedy served as a lightning rod of sorts and drove us to commit to find a safer area."
Adam Harrison Hall's Trial in September
, 27, of Placentia, who allegedly had 10 drugs and medications in his system at the time of the crash, was charged with murder and DUI in the deadly collision.
Authorities spent more than three months investigating the crash and on Aug. 2, in the February collision that killed Steves.
The pre-trial date is now set for Sept. 6.
Family members say Hall was living in Laguna Niguel and was on his way to work the morning of the Driving north on Moulton Parkway in a Ford sport utility vehicle he allegedly ran through a red light at and collided with a Toyota SUV passing legally through the intersection.
He was and remains in jail.
Traffic Commission Update
Though the intersection is under review, no changes have been made.