Remembering Mr. Carr

The accident that changed it allMr-Carr-Shooting-w-Brad-Dysinger

Piercing kind blue eyes, a dazzling smile and the apparent desire to connect with each and every student that crossed his path. This was the face of beloved English teacher Darrin Carr. Tragically, Darrin was killed in a car accident near Baker, CA on Dec. 30, 2016.

The crash occurred while Darrin was en route home from one of his favorite places, Las Vegas. He had been driving south on Interstate-15 near Baker. At 6:25 a.m. near Zzyzx Road, he drifted towards the right guardrail and the collision propelled his car to hit the concrete channel on the side of the road. When authorities arrived, Darrin was pronounced dead on site and they later ruled out any foul play.

The story behind the star

Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1962, Darrin Alan Carr always lived his life to the fullest. He moved to California when he was young, where much of his extended family lived.

While there, Darrin spent most of his time with his family. They all “routinely gathered at my Aunt Ruth’s house, where it seemed to be the center of all activity and fun,” Tia Lefkovitz, his cousin, said. Darrin also grew up practicing two religions: Christianity and Judaism.

Lefkovitz recalled Darrin’s childhood and family life as “sometimes a little challenging.” However, those same challenges created an unbreakable bond between Darrin and his younger brother, Scott, and a “deep deep bond of friendship that went far beyond that of just brothers.” This was a common theme with Darrin, where “family became friends, and friends became family.”

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The early years of Scott’s life with Darrin were filled with adventures. During long and hot summers, they would go to their grandfather’s house, where they bonded through learning to shoot skeet and trap.

“We were only a year and a half apart, he was a year and a half older than I was, so we were about as close to twins as you could get,” Scott said.

Not only did Darrin have a kind heart, he was also a talented and successful individual in all of his ventures. After shooting with his brother, they eventually became skilled enough to compete in the Maccabiah games, the Jewish version of the Olympics, in Israel where he became an All American and gold medal winner.

For college, Darrin attended the University of Oregon, where he joined a fraternity, and again friends became family. From there, he got his master’s degree in education from California State University of Northridge. In 2002, after teaching at El Camino High School, Darrin started teaching at Newbury Park High School, where he taught English for 15 years and coached girl’s softball for many of those years.

Even though he stopped coaching, he never left the game. Darrin worked the scoreboard at every basketball game and attended all the high school games. He was a friend, a teacher, a mentor to his colleagues and students alike, a coach and a family member. Darrin touched the lives of everyone he met.

When you lose your laugh, you lose your footing

Dean Magnante, a student in his ninth grade honors English class, felt he went beyond simply teaching his students.

“[Darrin] was really dedicated and he wanted the best for his students. He always tried to help them get the best from the lessons and not having him now is a loss,” Magnante said. “He helped us so much with our school work and was a friend.”

The comforting and personal environment that he created for his students strongly and positively influenced them. Despite graduating in 2012, Francheska Usares wanted to keep in touch with the teacher who “gave [her] hope that there were people out there that are genuinely nice and will help you regardless of where you came from or the color of your skin.”

When Usares first moved to California from the Philippines, she “remembered being anxious and scared going to school everyday. But in Darrin’s class, it was like a safe place.”

For Secilia Kalvelage, a graduate from the class of 2015, she discovered that although Darrin seemed harsh at times, “it really meant that he actually cared about every single one of his students and wanted them to succeed.”

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Darrin’s concern for his students’ success was also apparent to the teachers and staff around him.

“He would do anything he could to help a student be successful in his class, provide extra time. But I think at the same time, he would hold students to a high standard,” Joshua Eby, principal, said.

The lives of the people he interacted with at NPHS were not the only ones who Darrin left a lasting impression on. His brother, Scott Carr, considered Darrin to be more than just his family, but his friend.

“We couldn’t be any closer. It was one of those relationships where he was my brother, he was my best friend, he was my son, he was my everything,” Scott said.

He also emphasized what kind of person Darrin was in general by saying that “he would always have a smile for everyone, he’d be the first to offer money that he didn’t have (and) he’d be the first to offer you the shirt off his back. He was the guy that never realized how many people’s lives he touched, every single day.”

While working at El Camino, Darrin met Richard Urias, director of the Ventura County Office of Education, who soon became one of Darrin’s closest friends.

“We forged one of the greatest friendships . . . because there was so much support and therapy and friendship and frustration that he shared and being there for one another to get through it,” Urias recounted. “He was kind. He was generous. He was reliable and trustworthy. He always was. He always showed up with his best self.”

Because of Darrin’s involvement in his students’ work, “It is difficult for someone to fill his place” Roger Fachini, junior, said.

Everyone around Darrin would agree with Fachini: They knew what an incredible effect Darrin had on people.

“He wanted to be significant. He wanted to have a legacy. He wanted to influence and Darrin was a good influence,” Urias said.

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At Darrin’s memorial on Jan. 8, his friends, colleagues, and family members commemorated his life by sharing stories about him, bringing many to tears of both sorrow and laughter. While many of his friends, like Urias, recounted their experiences with Darrin, one of the moments his brother recounted was after the fatal accident.

“Saturday morning after (his passing), for the first time in my life I saw a double rainbow, and you don’t see those things very often,” said Scott. “I really got this sense of comfort, this sense of relief in seeing that happen. He really was there, and he really was watching over us.”

Scott shared several of Darrin’s favorite quotes in closure at the service.  One that hangs on the wall by his front door from the U.S. Navy Seals embodies one of Darrin’s greatest character strengths because while he always gave his best, he never sought recognition. “I do not advertise the nature of my work nor do I seek recognition for my actions.” The other two were from Darrin’s favorite book, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

Although Darrin’s favorite of the three was “But at least I tried,” that was not the one that stuck with Scott the most.

“The last one, which means the most to me is, ‘Man, when you lose your laugh, you lose your footing,’” Scott said. “My brother never lost his laugh, and until the day he passed, he never lost his footing.”

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2 Comments

  1. Athol Wong

    February 4, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    A wonderful tribute to a dedicated professional. I admit, however, I am bothered by the use of Mr Carr’s first name throughout the article, rather than the more professional and respectful “Carr.”

    • Nelson Kappas

      February 6, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      Thank you for your response. As per the AP style by which we adhere to, when two or more people in an article share the same last name we refer to them individually by their first names.

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