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Coroner: Eastern Illinois University assistant football coach Joe Orozco likely died of natural causes
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Coroner: Eastern Illinois University assistant football coach Joe Orozco likely died of natural causes


CHARLESTON — Preliminary indications are that Eastern Illinois University Director of Football Performance Joe Orozco died from natural causes over the weekend in his Charleston apartment, said Coles County Coroner Ed Schniers.

The coroner said Orozco, 30, was found unresponsive in his apartment on Monday by a couple of fellow assistant coaches who had gone there to check on him after he did not show up for the football team's workout early that morning and they could not reach him by phone or text. They called 911, and Orozco was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene by the coroner.

Schniers said the preliminary report from the autopsy that was completed late Tuesday afternoon indicates that Orozco died from natural causes and that there was nothing suspicious about his death. He noted that the final results from toxicology and others tests will not be known for four to six weeks.

Eastern Illinois assistant football coach Joe Orozco dead at 30

"It's a real tragedy. A young man only 30 years old," Schniers said. The coroner added that while walking on Eastern's fitness trail, he had seen Orozco leading workouts for his players on a few occasions. "I could tell he he had a good rapport with the football players."

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Orozco had been with the Panthers Athletic Department for just under two years, joining the staff as one of the first hires by current EIU head coach Adam Cushing. In a statement released by Eastern's athletic department on Monday, Cushing said Orozco "exuded passion and enthusiasm for the young men he served every minute of every day. Everyone in our program is fortunate for every second being influenced by him, me included."

Eastern Illinois University coach Joe Orozco remembered for his energy, generosity

Associate Athletic Director Rich Moser said the football team decided on Monday to go out and do some of the conditioning drills that Orozco liked to do on their own in honor of him.

Eastern reported that Orozco built a long-standing relationship with Cushing and many of the EIU football staff during his time at Northwestern University. Orozco began his time in Evanston as a football performance intern with Northwestern in 2013. He served one year as a graduate assistant strength coach in 2014 before four years as an assistant football performance coach. During his time with the program, Northwestern participated in four bowl games.

Orozco, 30, played college football at North Central College, earning Academic All-Conference honors. He earned his undergraduate degree from NCC in 2012 and master’s degree from Northwestern in 2017. A native of Tinley Park, Orozco is survived by his parents and two sisters.



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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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