SILVER CITY, N.M. (KRQE) – Western New Mexico University is mourning the death of a freshman football player.
Eddie Cruz, 18, drowned Monday at Bill Evans Lake near Silver City. New Mexico State Police recovered Cruz’s body Monday night around 7:30 p.m.
The wide receiver and kinesiology major from El Paso, Texas had not played a game yet for the Mustangs, but Head Coach Frank Tristan said he already made a big impact on the team. He said Cruz was one of the first players they recruited.
Tristan said six other freshman football players were with Cruz at the lake, but declined to share further details.”Our hearts are broken, and it has been tough to process,” Tristan said. “We are at a loss for words on this. We are being there for each other.”
Cruz was a graduate of Eastwood High School in El Paso. His former coach, Julio Lopez, said the loss they feel is immeasurable.
“We had an early morning practice schedule today, and it was the hardest thing to get through,” Lopez said. “It was a lot of emotions, a lot of tears, and we can’t believe that we lost him. He was a household name in our town. A lot of our kids were very close to Eddie because he had a very infectious personality. He just brightened your day. It really is the most difficult thing we had to deal with as a staff and program.”
El Paso City Council honored Cruz at their meeting Tuesday with his high school team.
Those players will wear a helmet decal with Cruz’s initials and jersey number during their game against Plano in Dallas later this week. They will also have his jersey on the sideline for every game.
Lopez said Cruz had an infectious personality. Cruz idolized Odell Beckham Jr., and he hoped to one day play in the NFL.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office said the death remains under investigation. WNMU says it’s offering counseling to students following Cruz’s death.