For the second time in roughly two years, tragedy has struck the Washington State Cougars, as starting safety Bryce Beekman died on Tuesday at age 22, Pullman police confirmed this morning to multiple media outlets, including Theo Lawson at the Spokesman-Review.
The cause of death is yet unknown, and won’t be known for a while: An email from the Whitman County coroner’s office to Lawson on Wednesday evening said that it will take two to three months to make a determination. Toxicology tests can often take that long.
KLEW-TV sports director Armen Araradian tweeted that Pullman police responded at 5:54 p.m. to a call for “breathing problems,” and confirmed that was in response to Beekman. KOMO-TV also reported this morning police found no signs of foul play or suicide, all of which has since been confirmed by Lawson.
“We are in shock with the news of Bryce’s passing,” said WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun, via news release. “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.”
New WSU coach Nick Rolovich informed the team of the news Tuesday night.
“My relationship with Bryce was still in its early stages, but I knew him to be a wonderful young man,” said Rolovich, also via news release. “He was always positive and well respected amongst his teammates. My heart goes out to his family and friends.”
Never had a chance to coach him in a game or practice, but he impacted me as a person with every interaction I was lucky enough to have with him. Seems like he did that to everyone. We will miss you Bryce, but you won’t be forgotten. https://t.co/iQ4QAYLuMq— Nick Rolovich (@NickRolovich) March 25, 2020
Former coach Mike Leach, whose staff recruited Beekman to WSU, tweeted his condolences:
Heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the Beekman Family and the Washington State University community. Bryce was an incredible kid who always had a smile and a kind word for everyone.— Mike Leach (@Coach_Leach) March 25, 2020
Beekman started all 13 games last season at safety after transferring in as a junior from Arizona Western College last spring as one of the more prized defensive recruits. He recorded 60 tackles in his first season in Pullman, finishing fifth on the team.
Players took to Twitter to offer their condolences, even before anyone in the public knew exactly what had happened.
Some ominous tweets from #WSU football players. I'm working to gather more information. pic.twitter.com/2KM98RUwEu— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) March 25, 2020
Beekman, like his teammates, was waiting out the stoppage in team activities forced by the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, that had postponed spring practices for the football team. New coach Nick Rolovich said in a conference call on Tuesday that most players had returned to their permanent residences, but Beekman was in Pullman after recently traveling home to Louisiana, according to Lawson — presumably for spring break.
Beekman’s death comes just about 26 months after former quarterback Tyler Hilinski died by suicide.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.