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Star athlete leaps to his death off Route 28 bridge

| Thursday, June 14, 2012, 2:01 p.m.
State police and South Buffalo firefighters work near the bridge over the Route 28 Expressway in South Buffalo where a man jumped to his death on Wednesday afternoon. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch

A multi-sport star athlete at Freeport Area High School who went on to play football at Slippery Rock University apparently committed suicide Wednesday afternoon when he stepped off the side of a Route 28 bridge high above Buffalo Creek, officials said.

State police and Armstrong County Deputy Coroner Brian Myers said Derek Durand, 20, of Buffalo Township, died from injuries.

The Valley News Dispatch does not report suicides unless they occur in public.

Police said at about 1:30 p.m. they received phone calls about a man who had parked his car and was walking on the bridge.

Durand parked a black Chevrolet Cruze, got out, and walked about 150 feet along the bridge before stepping over the barrier, police said.

The bridge, about 300 feet above the Buffalo Creek valley, carries the expressway between Buffalo Township, Butler County, and South Buffalo Township, Armstrong County.

Freeport firefighters used the Butler-Freeport Community Trail, which passes under the bridge, to reach the dead man's body. It was not immediately known if anyone was on that section of the hiking/biking trail at the time of the tragedy.

It's also unclear if he left a message.

Victim was star athlete

Durand was well known and liked.

Durand was the Valley News Dispatch Athlete of the Year in 2010-11 and was a member of the Slippery Rock University football squad.

Last fall, as a true freshman, he played in six games for Slippery Rock. He made four catches for 49 yards and scored one touchdown.

Durand was one of the WPIAL's most productive receivers and helped to lead Freeport to the quarterfinals.

He also was a star basketball player in high school and collected three medals at the WPIAL Class AA track and field championships several years ago.

Durand's high school and college coaches couldn't be reached Wednesday.

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