FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Dwayne Haskins was working on a second chapter for his young NFL career. The 24-year-old quarterback was spending time with some teammates with the Pittsburgh Steelers, getting ready to compete for a starting job.
That’s when his life was cut short.
Haskins was killed early Saturday morning when he was hit by a dump truck while he was walking on a South Florida highway. Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Indiana Miranda said Haskins was pronounced dead at the scene.
“He was attempting to cross the westbound lanes of Interstate 595 when there was oncoming traffic,” Miranda said in an emailed statement.
Miranda didn’t say why Haskins was on the highway at the time. The accident caused the highway to be shut down for several hours, and Miranda said it’s “an open traffic homicide investigation.”
A 2019 first-round draft pick by Washington, Haskins was released by the team after going 3-10 over two seasons. He was signed by Pittsburgh as a developmental QB, but he didn’t appear in a game last season.
Haskins appeared to be in South Florida this week with several teammates, including fellow quarterback Mitch Trubisky, running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth.
Haskins’ death sparked an outpouring of grief from multiple corners of the NFL, particularly from former teammates with the Steelers and Commanders.
“I am devastated and at a loss for words with the unfortunate passing of Dwayne Haskins,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “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.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Kalabrya, and his entire family during this difficult time.”
Washington coach Ron Rivera said he was “absolutely heartbroken” to learn of Haskins’ death.
“Dwayne was a talented young man who had a long life ahead of him,” Rivera said in a release. “This is a very sad time and I am honestly at a loss for words. I know I speak for the rest of our team in saying he will be sorely missed. Our entire team is sending our heartfelt condolences and thoughts and prayers to the Haskins family at this time.”
Ohio State posted a photo of Haskins on its Twitter feed, topped by the description “Leader. Legend. Forever a Buckeye.”
At Ohio State, Haskins set single-season records for touchdowns passing with 50 and yards passing with 4,831. He was the 2019 Rose Bowl MVP as the Buckeyes went 13-1.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day, who was the quarterbacks coach during Haskins’ final season at the school, called Haskins’ death “beyond tragic.”
“For those who knew him closely, he was much more than a great football player,” Day posted on Twitter. “He had a giant heart, old soul and an infectious smile. The Ohio State community and our entire football program are heartbroken.”
The Steelers gave Haskins a chance to resurrect his career in January 2021 when they signed him a month after being released by Washington. Humbled by the decision, Haskins stressed he was eager to work hard and absorb as much as he could from Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph.
Haskins made the roster as the third-stringer but only dressed once, serving as the backup in a tie with Detroit after Roethlisberger was placed into the COVID-19 protocol the night before the game.
“The world lost a great person today,” Steelers star T.J. Watt posted on Twitter. “When Dwayne first walked into the locker room I could tell he was an upbeat guy. He was always making people smile, never taking life for granted.”
Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert both praised Haskins for his improvement since joining the team, and the Steelers re-signed him to a one-year deal as a restricted free agent in March. He was expected to compete with Rudolph and Trubisky at training camp.
“Dwayne meant so much to so many people,” Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward posted on Twitter. “His smile was infectious and he was a guy you wanted to be around. We are all in shock about losing him. We are going to miss the heck out of him as well. We lost you way too early. Luckily I got a chance to get to know you. RIP DH.”
ESPN was the first to report Haskins had died.
“Devastated,” Rudolph said on social media.