While questions remain surrounding the death of NFL star Dwayne Haskins, who was struck and killed by a dump truck Saturday on I-595 near Fort Lauderdale airport, one thing is clear: a young life cut short is a loss that runs deep.
Haskins, the 24-year-old quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was remembered by teammates and coaches as a “selfless” man who “always had a smile on his face.”
He would have turned 25 on May 3.
A man who said he was driving on I-595 that morning after dropping off his daughter at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport told NBC6 Miami that “he made an immediate call to 911″ to report a man who was walking on the westbound lanes of the highway alone. Chris Stanley said he believes the man he saw may have been Haskins.
Stanley told NBC6 that he made a call to 911 at 6:31 a.m., just six minutes before the crash that killed Haskins.
“I did not see any vehicle nearby [that may have belonged to the man],” said Stanley. “I was more concerned with him because he was already making his way onto the road system. He was about halfway, to a quarter way in the right lane already onto the highway and I was already concerned that somebody was going to strike him right there at that moment.”
Stanley told NBC6 that he “saw the man’s arms raised up a little bit” as the man began to cross into the travel lanes. Stanley said he told 911 “this man is going to have a major accident if no one gets to him,” according to NBC6.
According a statement from the Florida Highway Patrol issued Saturday, Haskins was walking on the highway “for unknown reasons” and was “attempting to cross the westbound lanes of Interstate 595 when there was oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, he collided with an oncoming dump truck.”
Haskins died at the scene.
The agency declined to answer further questions Sunday citing the ongoing investigation.
Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool, who was training with Haskins in South Florida, shared an emotional tweet following Haskins’ death.
“I spent your final moments with you and I can’t help but think about how selfless you were in those moments,” Claypool said. “All you cared about was making sure that everyone around you was okay and I can’t thank you enough for that. You are what I strive to be.”
Claypool, overcome by emotion, later tweeted out a video of himself in tears.
Haskins had been in South Florida working out with with fellow Steelers teammates ahead of the upcoming NFL season.
Haskin’s agent couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday, but the company representing him, Goal Line Football, of Miami, put out a statement mourning the loss Saturday:
“We mourn the tragic loss of our GL family member Dwayne Haskins. There are no words to define this grief. Our prayers and condolences go out to his family and the Steelers family. Rest in power Dwayne.”
His agent, Cedric Saunders, told ESPN that Haskins was training with other teammates.
Haskins appeared to be in South Florida this week with fellow quarterback Mitch Trubisky, running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth, the Associated Press reported.
“I am devastated and at a loss for words with the unfortunate passing of Dwayne Haskins,” Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. “He quickly became part of our Steelers family upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and was one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community. Dwayne was a great teammate, but even more so a tremendous friend to so many. I am truly heartbroken.
He spent the past season as a backup for the Steelers and had signed a one-year restricted contract with the team in March.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who retired in January after 18 years with the team, spent his last season sharing a locker room with Haskins and said Haskins made an immediate impact despite their short time together.
“I only had the privilege to know him for a short time, but in that time I got to meet a young man that didn’t seem to ever have a bad day,” Roethlisberger said in a statement. He came to work everyday with a smile on his face and energy and love in his heart.”
“I really enjoyed his passion and his love for the game and wanting to learn and be the best. His smile and zeal for life will be missed!”
Prior to the NFL, Haskins starred at Ohio State, highlighted by a stellar season in which he threw 50 touchdowns and led the Buckeyes to a 13-1 season. Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said on Twitter he was “heartbroken” to hear of Haskins’ death.
“One of the greatest QB’s in Ohio State history, but an even better son, teammate, and friend. God Bless!!”
The Florida Highway Patrol described the case as an “open traffic homicide investigation” and said no further information would be released until it was completed. Traffic homicide investigations can take several months.