Rutgers wrestler found dead after car crash on Interstate 287


Fellow athletes show outpouring of support


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Sam Cali, a rising sophomore wrestler from Towaca, New Jersey, died June 19. Cali was one of two 19-year-old men killed in a car crash on Interstate 287 in Mahwah.


Sam Cali, a rising sophomore wrestler from Towaca, New Jersey, died June 19. Cali was one of two 19-year-old men killed in a car crash on Interstate 287 in Mahwah, according to a statement on ScarletKnights.com.

“We are extremely saddened by the unexpected passing of Sam Cali,” said Rutgers Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Patrick Hobbs in a statement. “This terrible tragedy will be deeply felt by the Rutgers community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and classmates of both Sam and Leo Vagias at this very difficult time.”

The incident occurred on Monday morning, when  a New Jersey Department of Transportation employee discovered a blue Lexus that had gone off of the roadway into the woods about four miles south of the New York border, according to a New Jersey State Police report first covered by mycentraljersey.com. A search of the scene found two men deceased outside of the vehicle.

Investigators who arrived at the scene indicated that the men were ejected from the vehicle during the crash.

Cali redshirted his first year on campus in 2015-16 after competing in three events. A Don Bosco Prep graduate, Cali was a two-time district champion and NJSIAA place-winner as an Ironman.

He compiled an 89-28 record throughout his high school career and placed fourth at the Beast of the East and third at the NJSIAA State Championships at 132 pounds as a senior.

“Sam was a great young man who everyone on the team truly loved being around,” said Head Wrestling Coach Scott Goodale. “He loved wrestling and being part of our Rutgers family. Anytime you lose a teammate it hurts, and this hurts really bad. We send our prayers to the families and will keep Sam a part of everything that we do.”

An outpouring of support on social media following Cali’s came from fellow wrestlers and Rutgers athletes alike.


Brian Fonseca

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