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Hundreds mourn UCLA wide receiver Nick Pasquale at hometown memorial

Highway and Road DisastersUCLA BruinsTransportation DisastersSportsFootball

Hundreds of people gathered at the high school football field in San Clemente on Monday to mourn the loss of a popular UCLA walk-on wide receiver who died early Sunday after being struck by a motor vehicle.

Nick Pasquale, 20, was a standout player at San Clemente High School, one of the key players who helped the Tritons reach the Southern Section Pac-5 championship game in 2011. He graduated from San Clemente in 2012 and was named All-Orange County.

“I’m going to miss him dearly,” his father, Mel Pasquale, told CBS Los Angeles. “Nick had the drive like nobody’s ever had. He had a passion for the game; he had a passion for life. He was an overachiever; he worked his tail off.”

Pasquale died of multiple blunt-force injuries after he was struck by a vehicle in San Clemente, according to a coroner’s report released early Monday. He had played in his first game for UCLA’s football team last week and was in his hometown over the weekend when UCLA did not have a scheduled game.

Authorities said Pasquale was walking when two cars approached him. One car avoided him, but the other could not, authorities said. The driver called in the accident and waited at the scene, said Lt. Gary Strachan, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. No one was arrested.

Authorities are investigating why Pasquale was in the street.

His brother, A.J. Pasquale, described him Monday as “a great man” and said he “had a bright future, and, unfortunately, it got cut short.”

UCLA teammate Carl Hulick said the entire team is feeling the loss.

“It’s absolutely brutal,” he said.

The UCLA football team had returned to practice on Monday, with the Bruin football flag flying at half mast.

Handmade signs were placed outside the practice facility to honor Pasquale.

“Play For Each Other. Play For Your Brother."

“We Love You Nick. Rest In Peace.”

“This is a very close team, as everyone knows,” UCLA Coach Jim Mora told KTLA-TV. “They care desperately about each other.”

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hailey.branson@latimes.com

Twitter: @haileybranson

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