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Dad killed in crash with son to be honored by state recycling agency

A celebration of life is being planned for Steven Uselton by the state agency for which he worked.
Uselton, 44, and his son Douglas, 17, a student at Oxford Academy in Cypress, were killed in a crash early Saturday. The Buena Park residents were on their way to a debate tournament at the school.

Douglas Uselton, 17, and his father Steven Uselton, 44, both of Buena Park, were killed early Saturday when the car in which they were traveling was struck by a suspected drunken driver, police said.SHEIKH

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Steve Uselton was a longtime employee of state agencies overseeing recycling and disposal efforts. Oxford students held a memorial Monday in honor of Douglas and his father, and a fund has been set up for the family through the school.

Rafael Lopez, 18, of Anaheim, faces two counts of vehicular manslaughter in connection with the high-speed collision. Authorities say he had a 13 blood alcohol level at the time.

The Useltons died at Knott and Crescent avenues in Buena Park when their 2000 Buick LeSabre was hit by a 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer driven by Lopez, prosecutors said. Lopez allegedly sped through a red light.
Steve Uselton grew up in Long Beach, where he attended Millikan High School.

Here is the text of a statement issued by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) about Steven Uselton, who worked in its Long Beach office:

In Memory: Steve Uselton 1966-2010

Steve Uselton, longtime state agency waste management professional, died unexpectedly in a tragic car accident Dec. 18 that also killed his teenage son. Steve was a loyal employee of the California Integrated Waste Board since 1990, and continued his work with the same co-workers and stakeholders in the newly formed Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) in 2010.

Beloved and respected within the Board and CalRecycle, Steve began as a landfill inspector, and throughout the years, made many significant contributions in helping local jurisdictions and industry divert and reduce waste under the mandate of AB 939 (the Integrated Waste Management Act). He lent his professional expertise to create new programs, such as the School Diversion Program in Southern California, helped local government and industry understand and implement a new disposal measurement system, and worked tirelessly to support communities in expanding diversion programs. Most recently, Steve served as the Branch Manager for the southern California office of Local Assistance and Market Development.

"Steve was a real leader in the true sense of the word and the heart and soul of our Southern California branch. He stood strong in carrying forward the goals of CalRecycle and in understanding the needs and challenges of stakeholders," said CalRecycle Director Margo Reid Brown. "Steve was a wonderful colleague, friend, and devoted father. We will miss him so very greatly."

Steve was as highly regarded by local government and industry professionals as he was within his own department. He took time to listen and understand his own employees, as well as the perspective of stakeholders in the solid waste industry. He was truly a fair and knowledgeable resource for anyone seeking his expert opinion. After any meeting, Steve gave a handshake and a smile to let the parties know that he was on their side and that they would be moving forward together.
Steve made his staff a priority, offering support, guidance and mentoring, while considering personal and professional needs. Steve was the first to volunteer, at work and in his personal life, to offer help wherever it was needed. No matter what he was working on, his face would light up with a smile when somebody stopped by to seek his opinion or just to chat.
Steve was a devoted husband and father and was incredibly proud of all of the accomplishments of his wife, son and daughter. He made a point to attend school activities, and was on his way to one of his son's events when the terrible accident occurred. Steve and his family enjoyed camping and sports activities, and were highly regarded in the community for their involvement in many activities.

Steve is survived by his wife, Desiree and daughter, Erin. His son, Douglas, a senior at Oxford Academy in Cypress, California, was also killed in the accident. Steve will be deeply missed by all of his friends and co-workers at CalRecycle.

Memorial services are being planned for early next week. CalRecycle is also planning a celebration of Steve's life, to be held in Southern California in mid-January.

Donations for the family can be sent through the Oxford Academy fund:
Oxford Academy Boosters Inc.
Douglas Uselton Memorial Fund
5172 Orange Avenue
Cypress, CA 90630

Contact the writer: rgonzales@ocregister.com
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