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  • On February 15, 2002, San Diego Padres outfielder Mike Darr was killed in a car accident near Peoria, Arizona. 

    Darr, who was driving the car, was not wearing a seatbelt and had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit. His longtime friend Duane Johnson was also killed in the crash.

    Darr made his major league debut just two years prior to his death. He was drafted in 1994 by the Detroit Tigers organization before he was traded to the Padres organization. His speed and defensive prowess helped him accumulate impressive stats in the minor leagues before his debut in the major leagues.

    Mike Darr struggled with substance abuse from an early age. Alcohol intoxication while driving a car cut short his promising major league career.

    About Mike Darr

    Born Michael Curtis Darr on March 21, 1976, Darr was born and raised in Corona, California. He was surrounded by the sport of baseball during his upbringing, as his father and brother both played at the professional level. 

    Darr attended Corona High School, where his struggles with substance abuse would cast a shadow over his love for baseball.


    After Darr’s senior year, the Detroit Tigers used a second-round pick to select him in the MLB draft. He was traded to the Padres organization in 1997, where earned two Minor League Player of the Year awards before making his major league debut in 1999.

    Darr was the Opening Day starting right fielder for the Padres in the 2001 season. Before the start of the 2002 major league season, which would be Darr’s last year in the major leagues, he had hit five home runs and 67 runs-batted-in (RBIs). 

    On September 22 2001, Darr hit a pinch-hit homer in extra innings against the San Francisco Giants. This walk-off at-bat would be the last of Darr’s career.

    Outside of baseball, Darr married his high school sweetheart, Natalie. He was close to Duane Johnson, whose family showed extensive support to Darr during and after his high school years.

    How Mike Darr Died

    The Padres organization was scheduled to meet for 2002 Spring Training in Arizona. On February 15, 2002, Darr was driving with his friend Duane Johnson and Ben Howard, a minor league pitcher for the Padres, when he lost control and the car rolled over.

    Johnson and Darr, who were not wearing seat belts, were killed in the accident. Howard was wearing his seatbelt while in the backseat at the time of the accident. He suffered minor injuries and did not require hospitalization.

    Alcohol Played A Role

    Frank Valenzuela spoke on behalf of the Arizona Department of Public Safety after investigating the circumstances of the car accident. He stated that Darr was well over the legal limit of alcohol, and was not in a suitable state for driving a car.


    After Darr’s death, Padres manager Bruce Bochy recalled his “fun-loving” attitude and talent for baseball. Teammate Trevor Hoffman described the disbelief the Padres clubhouse felt upon hearing the news of Darr’s death. He referred to Darr as a “special person.” 

    The Padres honored Darr’s memory by wearing patches with his uniform number, 26, for the 2002 season. Darr was survived by his wife Natalie, and two sons.

    Mike Darr’s History Of Substance Abuse

    Mike Darr’s history of substance abuse is not well-documented. 

    However, interviews and reports state that Darr began abusing substances in high school. Darr himself stated in an interview that his battle with drug addiction was aided by the Johnson family, though he may not have specified which drugs he was abusing.

    Did Mike Darr Attend Drug Or Alcohol Rehab?

    Darr was close friends with Johnson, and shared a bond with Johnson’s family. Johnson’s father, Donald Johnson, encouraged Darr to seek help for his substance abuse. Darr credited the Johnson family for helping him address his substance abuse problem.

    Recovery Is Possible

    Substance abuse can be a lifelong battle with lasting consequences. Getting help for drug or alcohol addiction can improve your own outlook as well as your relationship with those around you. 

    To find out how we make recovery possible for both individuals and families living with addiction, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Article Sources
    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
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