UCLA receiver Nick Pasquale was hit by a car and killed while walking in San Clemente early Sunday morning. He was 20.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said Pasquale was struck about 1:30 a.m.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Pasquale was trying to cross the busy multi-lane street in a residential neighborhood. Sheriff’s Lt. Gary Strachan said the car’s driver stopped, called authorities and stayed with Pasquale until they arrived.
The accident is under investigation. Strachan said no one was arrested.
Pasquale, a redshirt freshman, walked on at UCLA last fall after playing at San Clemente High School, where he was a three-year starter. The 5-foot-7 receiver earned the nickname ”Pacman” from his teammates while participating on the scout team in practices last season and again this summer, preparing his more heralded teammates for games.
”This is a tragic loss,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. ”Nick was an outstanding young man who had a positive impact on everyone who knew him. He was a great teammate who was loved and respected by his entire team. Our thoughts are with the Pasquale family.”
UCLA said Pasquale played in the final offensive series in its season-opening victory over Nevada on Aug. 31, although his name and No. 36 jersey didn’t appear on the participation report. The 16th-ranked Bruins were off this weekend, and many players went home to see their families.
Mora joined hundreds of Pasquale’s friends, family members and fellow football players in Tritons jerseys at San Clemente High School’s football field Sunday night for a sunset vigil to honor Pasquale, whose father wore UCLA gear.
”I love all of you guys for coming out here and supporting Nick and my wife and my family,” Mel Pasquale told the gathering.
UCLA plays at Nebraska on Saturday. Mora has closed the upcoming week’s practices to the media, but Pasquale’s teammates reacted on Twitter as the news of his death came out Sunday morning.
Star linebacker Anthony Barr said Pasquale ”was one of my roommates this summer – just a fun loving dude who truly appreciated life and lived every day to the fullest. I don’t get it.”
Dietrich Riley, a former UCLA safety whose career ended due to injury this summer, tweeted that Pasquale ”took every snap on the scout team. Never complained.”
”Love you PACMAN. Brother for life. Bruin for Life,” Bruins guard Xavier Su’a-Filo tweeted. ”The definition of a true team player. Came to practice every day ready to work and give his all for his teammates.”
”The UCLA family lost a wonderful young man who represented the university, his team and his family well,” UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. ”Our hearts go out to the Pasquale family, and we will do everything we can to assist and support them, as well as his teammates, as they go through this unthinkable tragedy.”