2019 Eastwood grad, star football player, passes away

El Paso News

EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – The latest information on the death of Eddie Cruz, an Eastwood High School graduate and former football star.

UPDATE: According to a Grant County Sheriff’s Department news release, the drowning call first came in at about 2:56 p.m. Monday and deputies arrived on the scene at about 3:27 p.m.

The New Mexico State Police Dive Team found the body, presumably Cruz, at about 7:30 p.m., the release said.

The incident is under investigation, the release said.

“The Grant County Sheriff’s Office wishes to express its sincere condolences to family and friends of the victim and to thank the New Mexico State Police and EMS for their assistance,” the release said.

ORIGINAL: Eddie Cruz, a 2019 graduate of Eastwood High School and a star on the football field for the Troopers, died on Monday near Silver City, New Mexico. He was just 18-years-old.

Eastwood football coach Julio Lopez confirmed Cruz’s passing to KTSM on Monday evening.

As of late Monday night, details surrounding Cruz’s death were limited. New Mexico state police were called to Bill Evans Lake north of Silver City around 3 p.m. after Cruz went into the water and disappeared. The State Police Dive Team responded to the incident.

Video obtained by KTSM from a witness at Bill Evans Lake during the incident on Monday shows a group of approximately 10 to 20 young adults in the water near the shoreline. The video begins with some of the young men in the video saying Cruz had been missing about three minutes at that point. Shortly afterward, his sandals were recovered by swimmers in the water. The New Mexico State Police dive team arrived at the scene to assist in the search shortly thereafter.

In a statement sent to KTSM Monday night, New Mexico State Police spokesperson Ray Wilson said he had not received a confirmation on the identity of the person involved in the incident at Bill Evans Lake and was unable to confirm if a body had been recovered.

Cruz was one of the stars of Eastwood’s 2018 district champion football team. The wide receiver’s strong play earned him a spot on the Western New Mexico University football team, where he was a freshman this fall.

Eddie Cruz, second from left, bottom row played Wide Reciever and was scheduled to play his first college game this coming weekend.

Western New Mexico University in Silver City is an NCAA Division II program that has become a pipeline for promising El Paso athletes seeking a college education while continuing their playing career. Their first game is scheduled for Saturday, September 7 at Ottawa-Arizona in Surprise, Arizona.

“We are devastated by the loss of this student. Eddie was a phenomenal kid with a bright future,” WNMU President Dr. Joseph Shepard said in a news release.

Cruz’s fellow teammates at WNMU include El Pasoans CJ Beanes (Pebble Hills), Andrew Henderson (Andress), Kaleb Gutierrez (Franklin), Cauy Oropeza (Del Valle), Ivan Moya (Hanks), Jeff Griffin (Andress), Jalen Pickens (Andress), Richard Lara (Montwood), Omar Morales (Del Valle), and Hardet Gonzalez (Pebble Hills).

“Eddie will always be a part of our Mustang family. We are thinking of and praying for his loved ones during this extremely difficult time,” said WNMU Director of Athletics Scott Noble.

The Eastwood and El Paso football community came together Monday night to grieve Cruz’s death on social media.

Eastwood is scheduled to travel to play Plano at The Star in Frisco on Thursday night. As KTSM previously reported, the game against Plano was already fraught with drama after Plano ISD unexpectedly canceled the matchup earlier this month, citing “security concerns.”

The game was later reinstated for Thursday at the Star in Frisco after El Paso City Councilman Henry Rivera, City Manager Tommy Gonzalez, and YISD leadership was able to locate an alternate location thanks to the Jones family and the Dallas Cowboys organization.

This is a developing story. It will be updated as more details become available.

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