The community is mourning the loss of Santa Barbara County Firefighter Paramedic Joey De Anda.
A motorcade of first responders brought him home to Santa Maria from Fresno on Tuesday. Local first responders lined overpasses on Highway 101 as the procession traveled down the Central Coast.
De Anda passed away in an off-duty skiing accident at China Peak in Fresno County on Saturday.
“The big smile that you see from Joey's picture is how Joey showed up and then he really exuded that through everything he touched,” said Jessica Otter, San Luis Ambulance Field Supervisor.
Those who knew him say he had a contagious smile, positive and supportive energy and a passion for helping others.
Over the last 15 years, Joey served the community as an AMR Paramedic, a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Dispatcher, and a flight paramedic for Mercy Air and Reach Air Medical Services. He was also a reserve paramedic for San Luis Ambulance.
In 2020, he joined Santa Barbara County Fire Department as a Firefighter Paramedic.
“He presents excellence in our profession,” said Kris Strommen, San Luis Ambulance Paramedic Supervisor. “He always did the best job that he ever could. He represents high standards and what you would truly really want in a paramedic and as a first responder. He embodied those characteristics.”
He was a hard worker and an example that if you put your heart and mind into something, you can accomplish anything.
“And I think he pushed people to be better,” Strommen said.
He was a friend to everyone he met. Most of all, he lived life to the fullest, touching countless lives along the way.
“With all his work he did in this community with hands-only CPR and teaching the community, I would hope that his legacy lives on for those people whose lives will be saved because of all the work that he did and I just encourage them, in his honor, to live life like he did with that big smile on his face,” Otter said.
“He was always smiling and I think that's what I'm going to miss the most about him,” Strommen said.