Newberry football coach Phil Strickland described Davonta Ruff as ‘everybody’s friend that didn’t have any enemies.’
Ruff died Tuesday at Prisma Health Richland Hospital from injuries suffered in a car accident Sunday night on Harold Bowers Road in Newberry. Strickland said Ruff, who was passenger in the car, had been on a ventilator since being airlifted to the hospital.
The state Highway Patrol is still investigating the wreck. According to Lance Cpl. Justin Sutherland with the Highway Patrol said Ruff was a passenger in a 2010 Hyundai being driven by another Newberry teen. They were headed along Harold Bowers Road when, near Stone Battery Road, the car crossed the centerline and went off the left side of the road.
Neither teen was wearing a seat belt, and Ruff was thrown from the vehicle. Both were taken by EMS to a hospital for treatment.
“He was just a fun-loving kid and I didn’t realize how many kids he had impacted,” Strickland said Tuesday night. “Our whole student body and community along with his family are taking this hard right now.”
Strickland remembers talking to Ruff, a junior, a few weeks ago about how he was going to have a bigger role next year both on the field and as a leader.
Ruff played receiver, defensive back and on special teams for Newberry. He had the game-saving play in the win over Fairfield Central on Sept. 12. The junior knocked down Stephen Gadson’s pass with 46 seconds left in the 34-32 victory.
Ruff also played guard for the Newberry basketball team.
“He had been biding his time and waiting on his chance. Next year was going to be his time,” Strickland said of Ruff. “It is just real tough that he won’t be able to do it.”
Messages on Facebook and Twitter poured in Tuesday following Ruff’s death.
“We are saddened by the loss of one of our own, Davonta Ruff, but our hearts are gladdened by the memories we will always have of him,” the Newberry Student Government Association posted on Twitter.