SAN DIEGO — Steve Krueger’s car still sits in the UPS parking lot in Kearny Mesa, a memorial growing around it two days after the beloved driver’s death when a plane plunged out of the sky and hit his truck in Santee this week.
Krueger had been more than a delivery man to the residents rocked by a sudden explosion on their suburban street Monday. Neighbors who spoke to FOX 5 in the wake of the crash recalled him as a friend — a familiar face who families knew by name and considered a part of their community.
Steve’s brother, Jeff, says it’s no surprise that the jovial driver stood out to the neighborhoods he served. Steve was quite a character — just look at the photos that have been placed on his car by loved ones.
“There’s a picture of him barefoot water skiing in his UPS uniform holding his package,” Jeff said, with a grin. “Or the one of him up at Mammoth, in shorts on skis on the slopes … that’s the kind of guy he was.”
Affable, intelligent and, yes, a gonzo skier: Krueger had a sense of adventure and fun-loving personality that endeared him to those who crossed his path.
The idea that Steve died when a plane suddenly fell from the sky was initially inconceivable.
“‘No, this is not happening, this couldn’t happen,'” Jeff recalled saying on the phone. “The first family member I spoke to about it, she said the same thing.”
A couple days removed from the tragic news, Jeff says that disbelief has given way to grief, but also a sense of pride.
“We’re really proud of how everybody is looking at our brother, and the way the media is portraying him in such a positive light, it’s like he’s really going out on a high,” Jeff said. “The outpouring of affection that we’re seeing for my brother, it’s overwhelming, but it’s making this a lot easier just knowing that so many people — what they felt about him.”
Neighbors planned a candlelight vigil near the crash site, Greencastle and Jeremy streets, to honor Krueger Thursday evening. Jeff says he plans to attend; he thinks he might be overcome with emotion, but he couldn’t miss it.