The man who died after falling while climbing at the top of Rock Park in Castle Rock was identified Friday as a 27-year-old former standout collegiate baseball player.
Matt Byars, who played baseball for Michigan State University in 2016 and 2017, fell while free-climbing The Castle Rock Tuesday evening. Rescue crews were called at around 8 p.m. and Byars was pronounced dead at the scene.
Byars, who played catcher for Michigan State, was drafted in the 24th round of the 2016 Major League Baseball draft after hitting .270 and recording an error-free season behind the plate, according to MSU Baseball’s website.
He returned for his senior season and played 47 more games.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Byars family," MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said in a news release published by the university. "Matt was a joy to coach and his big personality was a huge part of our program both on and off the field. We're heartbroken at his passing due to a tragic rock climbing accident in Colorado."
Before playing at MSU, Byars was a high school state baseball champion in the Madison, WI suburb of Lodi before playing two years at Heartland Community College in Illinois.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Byars was working as a real estate project manager for GOLFTEC in Centennial.
The Town of Castle Rock warns of the risks of climbing the top of the rock for which the town is named.
“The Rock has sheer walls that drop 50 feet or more, and falls have resulted in serious injuries and deaths,” the website warns, adding that “the climb down is more difficult than the climb up.”
The town says it doesn’t maintain the face of the rock where some attempt to climb, and says while climbing it “is not generally illegal,” it is “not recommended.”