Centennial High School is grieving the death of a sophomore on the school's basketball team who was killed in an alleged DUI incident Sunday night.
School officials confirmed Tuesday that the teen, unidentified in initial reports, was Clayton Boen. The Centennial boys basketball Facebook page had posted "RIP Clayton" hours before.
Centennial head basketball coach Hernan Santiago began receiving phone calls Monday morning about Boen's death. He kept hoping people had it wrong, but eventually he received confirmation that the teen, who played guard, had died.
"He was a young man full of life and passion," Santiago said. "Just a real sweet kid off the court, and on the court he was just hard-nosed and gave 100 percent effort."
Boen fit the team's style perfectly, the coach said. He was tough, physical and quick. He played on varsity throughout the preseason.
"More than anything else, he was just an ultimate teammate."
Santiago said Boen was also an "outstanding" football player who played running back and cornerback on the junior varsity squad and who likely would have played at the varsity level next year.
Boen, 16, died Sunday night after falling through the window of a vehicle driven by an allegedly impaired driver, according to police.
Officers were called to a report of a crash at the intersection of Renfro Road and Madison Michelle Way at about 11:30 p.m., police said.
They learned Boen, a passenger, was sitting improperly in the vehicle, with his torso “extending out of the open window.” He was thrown from the vehicle when it made a turn, according to police.
Officers pronounced him dead at the scene. The Kern County Coroner’s Office has yet to formally release his name.
The 17-year-old driver of the vehicle, who stayed at the scene, was found to be under the influence, according to BPD. He was arrested on charges of vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence, permitting unlawful riding, permitting an unrestrained passenger and provisional driver’s license violations.
The driver’s name was not released because he is a minor.
He was booked into Juvenile Hall.
A third teenager was reportedly also riding in the car. Police say at least two of the three underage boys, including the driver, were drunk.
No other Centennial students were involved in the incident, said Tom Haskell, the school's athletic director.
Haskell praised Boen's work ethic. While he didn't have great size, he was gifted with natural athletic talent.
"He wasn't a very big kid, but if he was five inches taller and 50 pounds heavier he'd be a Division I athlete," Haskell said. "(He was) always hustling."
It took multiple hits to bring him down on the football field, according to Haskell.
School officials and district counselors met with Boen's teammates Monday.
"It was a sad day, but our kids responded well," Haskell said. "I think they're all in shock. It's going to linger a while. He was well known."
Mark Thompson, the parent of another student, told The Californian Wednesday night's game against Garces is an event "that is sure to be emotional."
"He was the perfect teammate. Size didn’t matter to him. Let’s hope his death opens the eyes of other teens and makes them think consciously about their decisions," Thompson wrote in an email.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, 54 people had raised $3,115 on the GoFundMe website to help pay for Boen's funeral and memorial expenses. To donate, go to www.gofundme.com/claytonboen.