Highland High School student, Derrick Duff, dies in car crash near Santa Maria

CHP: Drugs, alcohol not a factor in crash

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Students at a local high school are remembering a teen who died over the weekend in a car crash.

Derrick Duff Jr. was only at Highland High School for nine months but in that short amount of time he won numerous games and countless hearts.

As Highland's varsity MVP, Duff is remembered as a 'phenomenal, extremely talented' star on the court.

He is also remembered as a 'hard-worker' in the classroom and 'all [his] teachers spoke highly of him.

His coach Jeff Waldrip said colleges nationwide wanted Duff on their teams.  Even so he 'never had a big head, never once was arrogant.  He was very humble.'

Friends said he was a jokester.  

"Everybody basically fell in love with him and he's only been here for such a short time," said Elijah Baier, a close friend and teammate.

The California Highway Patrol said 18-year-old Highland High School student Derrick Duff was thrown from a car on Highway 101 near Santa Maria early Saturday morning and died at the scene.  He was coming back from a trip to the coast for Spring Break.

"It was the first time his mom let him go somewhere without her or his brother," said Baier.

Baier said he was one of the first to find out about his best friend and teammate's death.

"My mom woke me up and gave me the news and I was shocked," said Baier. "My heart just dropped."

The CHP said Duff was asleep in the backseat and not wearing a seat belt when the driver lost control of their car and crashed.  Several other cars hit Duff after he was ejected onto the fast lane of the freeway.

CHP said drugs and alcohol were not factors in the crash.

A candlelight vigil is scheduled for Monday, April 1, for 7 p.m., at the Villa Sienna Apartments on 6900 Valley View Drive.  Friends and family will gather at the basketball court where Derrick used to practice.

Duff's memorial is expected to be Thursday, March 4, at 4 p.m., at Valley Bible Church.  The public is welcome to attend.

Several classmates and friends of Duff have taken to social media to express the loss of Duff.  Here's what they've had to say:


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