SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - By all accounts Joseph "Joey" De Anda loved his firefighter paramedic career at Firehouse 26 in Orcutt.
On Saturday, De Anda, 33, was enjoying a day off with friends at China Peak Mountain Resort in Lakeshore, California near Fresno. Around 12:30 p.m. he was skiing downhill when he struck a tree and died from his injuries.
Tim Cohee, a managing partner at the resort, described him as a beginner skier who was on an intermediate, groomed run at the resort when the tragedy happened.
De Anda leaves behind a family in San Luis Obispo and a fiance in Santa Maria where he will be laid to rest.
Since he did not die in the line of duty there will not be a procession, but firefighters are watching over him.
A couple of firefighters drove to Fresno to stand watch at the morgue and they will accompany his body to a mortuary in Santa Maria on Tuesday.
His loved ones will soon set a date for a memorial that will include firefighters in uniform and fire equipment.
Capt. Danial Bertucelli said it is a testament to who he was.
"He was an amazing human being, he was a guy that lightened up a room, he exuded positivity, and the last couple of years being around Joey was a breath of fresh air because he always brought such a positive light to any situation in light of a lot of negativity that has been around us. He always lightened up a room and brought a positive vibe."
Bertucelli and other firefighters are wearing black bands over their badges in honor of De Anda.
The county's public information officer said everyone could tell how much he loved his career.
Public information officer and photographer Mike Eliason said De Anda worked hard to achieve his dream. After working as a dispatcher and a paramedic for a private company he became a county firefighter in 2020.
"His lifelong wish was to work for Santa Barbara County Fire Department and not a lot of people get to say that they achieved their dream, and Joey really did. He excelled at it, he was well respected at it, he loved this community and he loved what he did and it showed in his work," said Eliason.
Before becoming a first responder De Anda also worked at NewsChannel 12 where Dave Alley remembers him as a "kid reporter" with an "infectious smile" who covered stories about young people for the morning news. He later worked as an editor.
Firefighters have a foundation to help his loved ones. The Santa Barbara County Benevolent Foundation has set up a fundraising link for financial relief.
All the donations will go to his family and fiance.
"The Santa Barbara County Fire Departments is sad and we stand by Joey's family and his fiance and we are going to be there for them throughout this ordeal and into the future we are not going anywhere we are going to continue to stand beside them," said Bertucelli.
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