Early Monday morning, Eckenrod's SUV hit a guardrail on Highway 99 near Collier Road and overturned. The California Highway Patrol said he died after he ran in front of a big rig as it came across the crash site. The crash is still under investigation. It is unknown if alcohol played a role.
Eckenrod first played rugby at Bullard and was currently playing with the Fresno Rugby Club. His coach, Dan Wilson, told Action News the teen was on his way back to Fresno from Sacramento at the time of the crash, trying to make it to a morning class at Fresno City College. Wilson described Eckenrod as a great athlete. "He was very polite and definitely someone who was looking to learn and was respectful, not just to a person, a man, but also to the game overall. He is someone who had a great future, and we kept telling him that," said Eckenrod.
Eckenrod's death spread through Fresno's rugby community quickly. Rudy Negrete was one of his high school coaches. "Off the field, he was a very quiet, very soft spoken kid, but on the field, he had a lot of potential. He was always giving 100 percent, and as a coach, that's what you want," said Negrete.