‘It’s devastating’: Family mourns security guard killed by hit-and-run driver; police make arrest

The Long Beach Police Department on Monday arrested a man accused of killing a security guard in a hit-and-run collision at Century Villages at Cabrillo, a housing community in West Long Beach.

Quentin Darnell Black, a 31-year-old Moreno Valley resident, was booked on one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one count of felony hit-and-run resulting in death or injury, police said.

Bail was set at $100,000, police said.

The victim, Derrick Smith, 54, was working at a security guard shack at around 3 p.m. Saturday when a motorist driving a 2012 Chevy Tahoe lost control and struck the shack at a high rate of speed, police said earlier.

The driver then fled the scene on foot.

Smith’s family said Monday that he was born and raised in Lynwood in a tight-knit family of three, including his mother and sister, Jenine Nelson-Piggott, 43. Another brother was killed in a fatal shooting when he was 18, family said.

“All the good things, all the laughters, all the going-eating-dinner, all that’s taken away from you and gone,” said Smith’s mother, Jenell Nelson. “It’s devastating.”

Smith had worked as a security guard for about a decade, according to his mother. He was a dedicated worker, never late, someone who was an “old-fashioned guy” and just went to work and home, she said. Nelson had him young, at 19, so their relationship was like both motherhood and friendship.

Smith would call his mother about three to four times a day just to talk.

“Your husband’s calling,” Nelson recalled her daughter saying to her as a joke. They called him “Big D,” an endearing nickname because he was tall, and after he “got buff,” his sister said.

“He’s like a big teddy bear,” Nelson-Piggott said.

Derrick Smith, 54, died after being struck by a hit-and-run driver on Saturday, June 12, 2021. Photo courtesy of Jenine Nelson-Piggott.

His sister described him as a “people person” who was beloved by many. He was a sports fanatic who loved the Dallas Cowboys, the Lakers and the Dodgers, knowing a variety of trivia from games to players.

“He could have been a sports commentator because he knew sports so well,” his mother said.

Having played baseball in high school, Nelson-Piggott said that he would coach and practice with her two of her children at Darby Park in Inglewood and Baldwin Hills Park in Los Angeles. He was a supportive uncle that often watched them play their games, she said.

His mother said that he was “very humble” and always willing to help others.

“What happened to my brother was totally unfair,” Nelson-Piggott said. “It was senseless.”

Smith is survived by a 15-year-old daughter, Nelson said.

Smith’s family will be hosting a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Tuesday at 2122 W. Willard St.

“It’s just so unheard of that you’re at work minding your own business, doing your job, and something devastating like this happens,” Nelson said. “I’m trying to wrap my head around it.”

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.
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