A small town in Costa Rica is reeling after a local soccer player was killed by a crocodile Saturday when he jumped into a river to cool off after exercising, Costa Rican media has reported.
Jesús “Chucho” Alberto López Ortiz was just 29-years-old when he died and leaves behind a wife and two children, Derian and Eithan, according to a statement from his soccer team, Deportivo Río Cañas.
“With deep sorrow we make public the death of our player Jesus Lopez Ortiz (Chucho), may God rest his soul,” his team wrote.
The young man jumped into the Cañas River near the town of Santa Cruz to bathe, according to his coach, despite the river being a known habitat for crocodiles.
“Unfortunately, he made a wrong decision, and by going in for a bath, what happened, happened,” Luis Montes said.
Witnesses were left horrified when the crocodile attacked López Ortiz and dragged him underwater. Police are unsure if the man died from drowning or injuries sustained from crocodile bites.
A video of the gruesome attack was posted online, showing the crocodile swimming in the river with López Ortiz’s body still clenched in its jaws. Another video showed the crocodile being shot at.
A spokesperson for the Costa Rican Red Cross told the Tico Times that local police shot and killed the crocodile to recover López Ortiz’s remains.
The 29-year-old’s soccer team posted on Facebook urging people to not share videos of the attack that ended their teammates life.
“Please respect the family’s pain and do not upload videos of what happened, and if you have uploaded them, please take them down, as there are children, a mother, a father, brothers and Jesús’ wife who deserve respect,” the team wrote Saturday.
A funeral procession for López Ortiz was held on Wednesday, attended by over 1,000 people “representing all your friends, family, and the whole country that was there with you,” his team wrote.
“Today we said goodbye to you, Chucho.”
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López Ortiz was a midfielder who played in the third division of Costa Rica’s National Amateur Soccer League. His coach said he will be remembered as a humble, helpful and calm person, well-liked by his teammates.
“You will always live in our heart Chucho. Fly high,” his team wrote alongside a video memorial for the 29-year-old.
Crocodiles are plentiful in Costa Rica’s rivers. The Tico Times reports that the country’s National System of Conservation Areas is currently investigating how to better control the crocodile population and prevent deadly encounters between the reptiles and humans.
While the Cañas River, where the attack happened, is known as a haven for fishing, the outlet writes that locals may think twice about approaching its waters after López Ortiz’s untimely death.
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