Calif. FF-paramedic dies in off-duty snowboarding incident

"Joey [DeAnda] will be remembered for his positive attitude and hard work ethic," said Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Daniel Bertucelli


Chloe Jones and Yesenia Amaro
The Tribune

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — A firefighter from San Luis Obispo who died in a snowboarding accident at China Peak Mountain Resort was remembered by friends and colleagues for his "positive attitude and hard work ethic" and his "genuine heart," according to posts on social media.

Joseph (Joey) De Anda, 33, who worked as a firefighter paramedic for Santa Barbara County while living in SLO, "died immediately from his injuries" after he crashed into a tree on Saturday at the resort, according to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies responded to the incident about 12:30 p.m. and found De Anda in the snow, according to a news release.

"He was wearing a helmet, however, his injuries were too significant and he was not able to survive."

De Anda had served as a firefighter with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department since 2020, according to the release. He also served as a communications dispatcher and paramedic for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office SWAT Team.

"Joey will be remembered for his positive attitude and hard work ethic," Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Daniel Bertucelli said in the release. "Joey made lasting relationships with everyone he came in contact with. Joey was the example that if you put your heart and mind into something, you can accomplish anything."

De Anda also worked as a flight medic on a Calstar helicopter crew and for San Luis Ambulance, according to posts on social media.

He had just gotten engaged in July 2021 to his girlfriend of three years, according to his Instagram account.

Joey De Anda worked in journalism before becoming a firefighter

Before becoming a first responder, De Anda studied journalism at Cal Poly and Cuesta College, according to his Twitter bio and a former professor. He also worked in TV news on the Central Coast, as an intern for KSBY in 2017 and as an editor for KCOY in 2005, according to KSBY.

"Oh how tragic. Joey is a former @CPJour student," journalism professor Pat Howe said in a tweet Sunday. "He'd come to class after working long shifts as a paramedic. I remember him as just the sweetest person."

Former KSBY reporter Megan Healy, who left the Central Coast last year for a job in San Diego, posted her condolences on Twitter.

"My heart is broken. Joey, you were one of the good ones. There are no words to describe how much you will be missed. Sending all my love and prayers to your family and your beautiful fiancé," she wrote.

"Joey was a fantastic person with a genuine heart. Sending all my love, thoughts and prayers to his friends, family and beautiful fiancé," Emely Navarro, a journalist with Access Online, tweeted.

SLO County fire departments mourn death

Several fire departments and law enforcement agencies across the Central Coast expressed condolences Sunday for the sudden death.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and fellow Santa Barbara County firefighters as they mourn the loss of Firefighter Joey De Anda," the Atascadero Fire Department tweeted. "Thank you for serving our community ... with San Luis Ambulance. Joey, you will be missed. RIP brother."

Five Cities Fire tweeted, "FCFA sends our thoughts and love to Joey's family, his friends, and crews from both SBCO Fire and San Luis Ambulance. Joey was a solid medic and a good man."

The San Luis Obispo Fire Department shared its thoughts and prayers to De Anda's friends and family in a tweet on Sunday.

"This loss will be felt throughout the Central Coast as Joey served many communities throughout his career of emergency medical service and public safety, including our own in #SLOCity with @san_luis_ambulance. Please keep Joey's family in your thoughts and prayers," the department wrote on Twitter."

The Fresno County Coroner's Office is working with officials at the Santa Barbara County Fire Department to provide "proper honors" to De Anda before taking him back to the Central Coast, according to the release.

This is not the first death at the China Peak in recent years.

In 2018, Fresno snowboarder Blake Smith fell head-first into deep snow at the mountain resort and suffocated before he could get out. A similar death happened in 2012, when 30-year-old Kynan Stanners of Bass Lake died after falling head-first into snow while snowboarding.

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(c)2022 The Tribune 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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