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Derrick Duff

A Highland High School basketball star died early Saturday morning on Highway 101 on the way home from a Spring Break vacation in Pismo Beach after he was thrown from the back of a Jeep.

Duff’s mother Valerie Mility, said Saturday that the trip to Pismo Beach was her son’s first trip away from home away from his family.

After a week away, she said, he and his two friends were hoping to drive home early.

The trio made it nearly to Highway 166, which connects the Central Coast town of Santa Maria to Kern County, when the accident happened.

Mility believes the boy fell asleep at the wheel.

The collision threw Duff, who was not wearing a seatbelt, out of the vehicle and onto the pavement of the fast lane, where he was hit by other vehicles travelling on the highway, Highway Patrol reports stated.

The number of other vehicles who hit Duff was not known, according to the Highway Patrol report. But none of them stopped at the scene to help.

Mility is a travelling nurse who brought the family to Bakersfield for a job at a Bakersfield hospital.

“He loved basketball and girls and friends and having fun,” she said. “He was funny. He loved to dance. He never got into trouble.”

Elijah Baier, Babette’s son, was one of Duff’s closest friends.

One of Duff’s best moments, Baier said, was in Highland’s first basketball game of the season against Garces High School.

Duff was a unique player, he said, because he never gave up. No matter what the score was he would push himself hard and fight to give Highland the win.

“It was Friday of last week and I told him that me and my mom were going to go visit colleges and go to the beach,” Baier said.

“We wanted to go to college. He planned on becoming a police officer and playing basketball,” Baier said.