Irvine Valley College's basketball program is mourning the loss of a former player, while wondering if the young man took his own life by wandering on foot into freeway traffic.
Darius Porter was killed the evening of Oct. 21 by oncoming traffic on the northbound lane of the Santa Ana (5) Freeway.
Investigators are still trying to determine if Porter's death around 6:45 p.m. was the result of an accident or suicide, according to Lt. Jeffrey Hallock of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Patch reported one witness saying he tried unsuccessfully to convince Porter to stay at the scene after he was struck by a vehicle on a surface street, suffering a head injury. Porter is then reported to have run up the freeway onramp at Avery Parkway. The coroner's report indicates he was struck by multiple vehicles.
Kristen Wilcox of the Saddleback College student newspaper The Lariat reports Porter came out of Temescal Canyon High School in Lake Elsinore to play small forward as a freshman at Irvine Valley last season.
“On behalf of Irvine Valley College, we want to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Darius Porter,” Jerry Hernandez, the men's basketball coach, says in a statement. “The Irvine Valley family was deeply saddened to hear the news of his death. Darius will truly be missed. In the year that he was part of our program, we knew him as a great teammate and friend. We have offered counseling support, if needed, to our players during this tough time. Again, our heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to everyone who knew, cared for and loved Darius. We are sorry for their loss.”
Hernandez acknowledged to the student reporter that Porter had problems.
“At the end of the season he was struggling academically, financially, and he kind of decided 'Hey, coach, I want to play basketball and go to school but It's just been challenging financially to support myself,' and he chose not to come back,” Hernandez said.
But the coach added he did not see signs of suicide, something echoed in the piece by Porter's friend and the basketball team manager, Andrea Gonzales.
“I didn't think it would have gotten this far,” Gonzales told The Lariat. “I didn't, honestly didn't see signs. I haven't hung out with him probably for a month and a half or so but I didn't think it was that bad whatever it was. I was surprised.”
Gonzales remembered Porter as a light-hearted friend: “He was hilarious. We had great times. Every time we hung out we would always just laugh. Even today and yesterday I would break out into laughter just thinking of funny times we've had just hanging out. Whether it was eating Mongolian barbecue down by Saddleback or just hanging out at the mall or something. I'm just going to miss him a lot.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.