By Jason Hanna, Wayne Sterling and Rebekah Riess
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Dwayne Haskins, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and 2018 Heisman Trophy finalist at Ohio State, was struck and killed by a dump truck Saturday morning while trying to cross a highway on foot in South Florida, police said.
Haskins, who re-signed with the Steelers last month, was 24.
Haskins was trying to cross Interstate 595’s westbound lanes, near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Broward County, when the dump truck hit him, the Florida Highway Patrol said. The incident was reported shortly after 6:30 a.m., the patrol said.
He had been “walking on (the highway) for unknown reasons,” the patrol said in a news release.
Details about what led up to the incident were not immediately available. In recent days, Haskins was in South Florida working out with some Steelers teammates, as captured in Instagram stories from Haskins and Steelers running back Najee Harris.
News of Haskins’ death drew statements of shock from around the league and beyond.
“I am devastated and at a loss for words with the unfortunate passing of Dwayne Haskins,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement released by the team.
“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,” Tomlin’s statement reads. “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.”
‘I feel like I can be a starter in this league’
Haskins, a third-string quarterback last season behind the now-retired longtime Steeler Ben Roethlisberger and backup Mason Rudolph, re-signed with the Steelers for one year last month, poised to enter his fourth year in the NFL.
“I feel like I can be a starter in this league. I got drafted for that reason,” Haskins said in January, according to Steelers.com. “I definitely believe I have the talent to. I just haven’t put it all together yet. And that’s something I have to do this offseason to put myself in position to play.”
Haskins rose to prominence at Ohio State, where he set OSU and Big Ten Conference records as a redshirt sophomore in 2018, including single-season passing yards (4,831), touchdown passes (50) and total offensive yards (4,939).
He finished third in voting for that season’s Heisman Trophy, awarded to college football’s most outstanding player.
Washington selected Haskins as the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Haskins played 16 games across two seasons for Washington — starting 13 times — before the team released him in December 2020 toward the end of his second season.
The Steelers picked him up in January 2021, though he did not enter a regular-season game for Pittsburgh. This coming season, Haskins was set to compete with Rudolph and new Steelers acquisition Mitchell Trubisky for positions on the depth chart.
Roethlisberger said on Twitter although he only knew Haskins for a short time, he knew him to be “a young man that didn’t seem to ever have a bad day.”
“He came to work everyday with a smile on his face and energy and love in his heart. I really enjoyed his passion and love for the game and wanting to learn and be the best. His smile and zeal for life will be missed!,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ll say it again just like I told you to your face, I still wish I could throw the ball like you,” he added.
The Washington Commanders, Ohio State and fellow players expressed shock and condolences.
Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward tweeted “Dwayne meant so much to so many people.”
“His smile was infectious and he was a guy you wanted to be around,” Hewyard wrote. “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.”
Haskins’ second head coach in Washington, Ron Rivera, said Saturday he was “absolutely heartbroken” to hear of his former player’s passing.
“Dwayne was a talented young man who had a long life ahead of him,” Rivera’s statement reads. “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.”
Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool remembered Haskins’ selflessness in his final interaction with him.
“I spent your final moments with you and I can’t help but think about how selfless you were in those moments. 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 tweeted.
Ryan Day, head coach at Ohio State, said in a tweet the university community is “heartbroken.”
“The loss of Dwayne is beyond tragic and extremely difficult to process. For those who knew him closely, he was much more than a great football player. He had a giant heart, old soul and an infectious smile,” Day tweeted.
The Ohio State athletics department released a statement saying it was “terribly saddened to learn of the death of Dwayne Haskins Saturday morning.”
“We are thinking of the entire Haskins family during this most difficult time. Our prayers are with the family, and with his current and former teammates, coaches, friends and relatives,” the statement reads.
In his 16 career NFL games at Washington, Haskins threw for 2,804 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
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