22-Year-Old Washington State University Football Player Dies: 'We Are in Shock'

Pullman Police say they responded to a call placed by Beekman on Tuesday night for "breathing problems"

Bryce Beekman

Bryce Beekman, a starting safety for the Washington State University Cougars and rising senior, died on Tuesday. He was 22.

Pullman Police told KLEW News reporter Armen Araradi that they responded to a call placd by Beekman at 5:44 p.m. local time for reported “breathing problems.”

Authorities said the cause of death is still unknown. Police said the Whitman County coroner’s office would be releasing more information soon.

Neither Pullman Police nor the Whitman County coroner’s office responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Washington State University confirmed the news to PEOPLE in a statement, writing that they had learned of his death on Tuesday night.

“We are in shock with the news of Bryce’s passing,” WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun said. “Bryce was a tremendous young man, great teammate and will be missed by all. We send our deepest condolences and prayers to the Beekman family and his many friends.”

WSU Head Coach Nick Rolovich also shared his grief over Beekman’s death.

“My relationship with Bryce was still in its early stages, but I knew him to be a wonderful young man,” Rolovich, who informed the team of the news Tuesday night, said. “He was always positive and well-respected amongst his teammates. My heart goes out to his family and friends.”

According to Cougar Center, Beekman started all 13 games last season after transferring in as a junior from Arizona Western Junior College. He was regarded as one of the team’s top defensive recruits and finished with 60 tackles in his first season.

Bryce Beekman
Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty

WSU postponed spring workouts and encouraged students to return home amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, The Spokesman-Review reported.

Rolovich told reporters on Tuesday that a majority of his team had not returned to campus. It is unclear why Beekman — who hailed from Baton Rouge, Louisiana — was in Pullman at the time of his death.

Several of Beekman’s teammates mourned his death and shared their condolences on Twitter after learning of the news.

“One of the purest souls..,” wide receiver Easop Winston Jr. wrote, while fellow wide receiver Renard Bell added, “Fly high. Forever my dawg.”

“Cherish your loved ones. Every second matters,” offensive lineman Liam Ryan shared.

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