Padres outfielder Mike Darr killed

Feb. 15, 2002 at 6:34 PM
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PEORIA, Ariz., Feb. 15 (UPI) -- San Diego Padres outfielder Mike Darr and another man were killed in an auto accident on a Phoenix highway early Friday morning.

The one-vehicle accident occured at 1:55 a.m. local time on Route 101, according to Frank Valenzuela, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Department of Public Safety.

"Our heart goes out to him and his family," Padres Manager Bruce Bochy said. "I don't know if you ever get over something like this."

A friend of Darr, 23-year-old Duane Johnson, also was killed in the accident. Johnson was the son of UCLA assistant football coach Don Johnson.

Another passenger, Ben Howard, 23, a minor league pitcher, was treated at the scene and released.

Darr, 25, was driving a sports utility vehicle westbound when he

lost control and tried to overcompensate. The vehicle went

across all three lanes and hit the median, ejecting front-seat

passengers Darr and Johnson, who were not wearing seat belts.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Howard, who pitched at the Class A and Class AA levels last

season, was in the back seat and was wearing a seat belt.

Valenzuela said it appeared that the accident was


The Padres train at nearby Peoria, Arizona, where pitchers and

catchers are scheduled to report for workouts on Friday.

"We lost a special teammate and a special person. There are a

lot of heavy hearts in that locker room," Padres reliever Trevor

Hoffman said. "He was a special kid because he was a simple


Darr, the Padres' opening day center fielder last season, batted

.277 with two homers and 34 RBI in 105 games in 2001. He was

acquired by the Padres in a trade with the Detroit Tigers on

March 22, 1997.

"He was a fun-loving guy that loved the game of baseball," Bochy

said. "He was well-liked by everyone. That is why this is such a

difficult time."

A native of Corona, Calif.,Darr made his debut major league

debut with the Padres on May 22, 1999. He split the 1999 and

2000 seasons between San Diego and the minor leagues and posted

a career average of .273 with five homers and 67 RBI.

Darr is survived by a wife, Natalie, and two young sons, Mike

Jr. and Matthew.

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