Mother, wife, and school volunteer are just a few words that describe Mara Steves, 48, who was killed this morning after she saved a stray dog.
Steves was kneeling on the sidewalk at the intersection of Nueva Vista Drive and Moulton Parkway, holding the dog that had been darting in and out of traffic when two SUVs collided, striking her, according to Lt. Ted Boyne with the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The accident occurred about 11 a.m.
Those in the community are devastated by the news.
"Such a sad, sad situation," said Barbara Scholl, principal at Bergeson Elementary School where Steves served as PTA president for several years until her children moved on to middle school three years ago.
"An active volunteer is an understatement. She started many programs and was such a bundle of energy and enthusiasm that parents wanted to do anything they could do to help around the school. She was a motivational force."
During the last three years, Steves continued to volunteer at the school in addition to working in the office when the office manager or attendance clerk were absent, according to Scholl.
"She was such a great role model for her kids," Scholl said. "Her daughter, Hannah, volunteers at Bergeson Elementary whenever she has time off. She follows in her mom’s footsteps. Almost everyone knew Mara and those who knew her, loved her. She will be greatly missed by the entire community."
Just moments ago, Scholl sent out this note to parents at the school:
It is with great sadness that I share this news with you. Mara Steves passed away this afternoon in a tragic and sudden accident. Mara was past PTA president and currently active as our favorite office substitute when Debbie or Angel had to take a day off. Mara was taking a walk this afternoon and was doing a good deed by returning someone’s runaway dogs to their home when a car ran a red light, hit another car which hit Mara at the corner of Moulton and Nueva Vista. Mara was bigger than life, always doing good deeds for others and serving our community. Her energy was infectious and her love of life was beyond compare. She has served the Bergeson community for a decade starting new programs and working tirelessly for the good of the children at our school. Our entire Bergeson community mourns the loss of our friend, Mara, sending love and condolences to Mara’s beautiful family, especially her two children, Hannah and Jonathan and husband, John. We will never forget Mara and the legacy that she left at Bergeson Elementary School.
This note was purposefully sent to you on Sunday since many of our children know Mara. We wanted you to have a chance to talk with your children as a family instead of having the kids hear of the news from one of their friends tomorrow at school. If you know the Steves family and would like to help provide meals or assistance, email Mrs. T (email@example.com) or Mrs. Gray (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will be organizing a website for this purpose.
Because Valentine’s Day was Mara’s favorite holiday, we will dedicate our Jump Rope for Heart tomorrow to Mara Steves which will be a wonderful way to celebrate her life.
Boyne said that Steves was down on one knee holding the dog whe she was hit. "[The drivers] could have been on the phone, they could have run a red light, we don't know," Boyne said.
The dog had been darting in and out of traffic, authorities said, and Steves had just gotten ahold of the dog when she was hit.
A 59-year-old man from Anaheim, who was behind the wheel of a Toyota 4Runner, suffered bumps and bruises. His female passenger, a 56-year-old woman, suffered a broken collarbone, Boyne said.
The other vehicle, driven by a 27-year-old man from Placentia, was a Ford Explorer. The man suffered bumps and bruises; all were taken to area hospitals, Boyne said.
"At this point, we don't know if the dog caused the crash," Boyne said.
"It did get away."
The major traffic reconstruction team was sent to the scene and a SigAlert was put into place at noon at Aliso Creek Road and Crown Valley Parkway.
The investigation is continuing.