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Update: Driver involved in fatal hit-and-run of Abbotsford athlete turns himself in

Desmond Bassi - Web photo
Desmond Bassi
— image credit: Web photo

The driver involved in a hit-and-run crash that killed star athlete Desmond Bassi, 17, early Saturday morning turned himself in to Abbotsford Police later that afternoon.

The driver is also 17, and now faces criminal charges. His name cannot be released because he is a youth.

Less than an hour before the teen turned himself in, another 17-year-old showed up at the police department and said he had been a passenger in the suspect vehicle, which has now been located and seized.

Const. Ian MacDonald said Bassi, who was identified as the victim by the Abbotsford News early Saturday afternoon, left a party that had taken place on a side street off Clearbrook Road with a small group of friends.

The group walked along Clearbrook Road and then west on Blueridge Drive towards Mt. Lehman Road. At some point, Bassi got far enough ahead of the group that they did not witness the collision.

Two drivers travelling east on Blueridge, just west of Townline Road, found Bassi lying in the road, pulled over and called 911 just before 1:30 a.m.

When police arrived, they found the teen severely injured. Two officers took turns performing CPR, but the boy died in hospital about an hour later.

Bassi was a star receiver for the W.J. Mouat Secondary football team, earning All-Province honours last season after leading the AAA high school league in receptions with 41. He was also a key member of the Hawks basketball team that won the Fraser Valley title and finished fourth at provincials in March.

Bassi was set to attend Simon Fraser University this fall on a football scholarship, and Mouat head coach Denis Kelly said he had put in a tremendous amount of work getting his grades up during his Grade 12 year in order to qualify academically.

"There were nothing but positive things happening for him, and then this," Kelly said. "He was a kid with all kinds of athletic talent, and really highly regarded by the teachers.

"What a promising future he had. You've just got to feel sick for the family and for the grad class."

Gurminder Kang, one of Bassi's closest friends and a Mouat basketball teammate, was part of the group that was walking westward on Blueridge Drive. He did not see the incident, as Bassi was separated from the rest of the group by about 100 yards.

"We live on the same street, so we were just walking to our houses," he said. "Why him? It shouldn't ever have happened to this guy. He's the greatest guy in the world."

Via Facebook, several of Bassi's classmates organized a candlelight vigil at Mouat Secondary on Sunday evening.

Luke Friesen, a teammate of Bassi's in both football and basketball, remembered his friend as omeone with a great sense of humour.

"Desmond was the kind of guy who could really make you laugh in any sort of situation," Friesen said. "He'd walk into a room, and everyone would smile. He was just that type of guy.

"He had a great work ethic – he had to try so hard to pass his classes to get to SFU, where he really wanted to go to play football."

Kang said Bassi was a generous person who was quick to cheer people up when they were feeling down.

"I'll always remember his friendship," Kang said. "He always made people laugh.

"And he worked really hard. He knew what he wanted, and he just went after it."

On Sunday, the Abbotsford Police Department turned over the investigation to the Lower Mainland District Regional Police Service and the Surrey RCMP Serious Crime Section, after it was determined that one of the persons involved in the incident is an extended family member of an APD officer.

RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen declined to identify whether it was the victim, a suspect or a witness that the APD officer was related to. No charges had been laid as of Monday afternoon.

"The primary focus of the investigation right now is, we're trying to determine the movements of the victim," Thiessen said. "There's a lot of work to be done yet trying to determine what led up to this incident."

Bassi was wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans with a white belt and white sneakers at the time of the incident. Anyone with information on his movements on Saturday morning is asked to contact Surrey RCMP.

– with files from Vikki Hopes

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