GUSTINE, Calif. (KFSN) -- A highway memorial sign stands now as a permanent tribute to CAL FIRE Captain Paul Rotondaro, who was killed in a car crash nearly four years ago.
"When we travel back and forth to Merced, we'll always see those signs. And never forget about Paul," said Chief Pat Borrelli of the Gustine Fire Department.
On Monday morning, several local leaders, first responders, and family members gathered in Merced County to unveil the Paul Vincent Rotondaro memorial sign. His children even helped lead the pledge of allegiance.
This new tribute will be displayed along Highway 140 in Gustine, where his life was cut short.
"It's a wonderful honor, and I know he would be so happy and so proud of this," said Jennifer Rotondaro, Paul's wife.
Rotondaro was killed in a crash in October 2019. He was going from one fire station to another when investigators say a driver in a Dodge Ram pulled into the passing lane near Old Santa Fe Grade, colliding head-on with Rotandaro's Ford Ranger. The other driver also died.
In the wake of the crash, the community came together for several tributes to the fallen fire captain....and later spent months working to get this sign approved. Supporters say it's important because of the lasting impact Rotandaro had on the community of Gustine.
"Every time I go around, I always end up running into someone who knew him, and they always have an amazing story about how wonderful he was," said Jennifer Rotondaro.
Rotandaro grew up in Merced and graduated from Merced College before joining CAL FIRE in 2006.
His mother, Toni McMillin, says her son's legacy will live on with this memorial sign and his young son.
"Now, with Wyatt, he's just joyful and happy and loving, runs up to you and jumps into your arms to say hello. He's loving and happy, just like Paul was."