Sad and tragic beyond words: a Seattle man who’d just begun a journey to dribble a soccer ball an incredible 10,000 miles to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup has died after being struck by a vehicle along the Oregon coast.
42-year-old Richard Swanson had hoped to hike across the Americas over the course of the next year, to arrive in Brazil in time for the 20th FIFA World Cup, which takes place June 12-13, 2014. He had embarked on the journey on behalf of football charity One World Futbol, which donates high-quality soccer balls to people in disadvantaged communities across the planet.
But while walking down U.S. highway 101 (also known as the Oregon Coast Highway) near Lincoln City, Oregon, Swanson was fatally struck by a pickup truck. The Washington Post reports that Swanson was declared dead at the local hospital Tuesday, and that the driver of the truck has not been charged.
“We are deeply saddened to learn about Richard’s death,” said Lisa Tarver, COO of One World Futbol, in a statement. “He was a very inspiring man who in a very short time walked his way into many lives. Our thoughts are with his family.”
Swanson had been chronicling the journey on the trip’s official website, Breakaway Brazil, where he described himself as “an avid runner, soccer player, and all around lover of the Pacific Northwest” and said, “You will find me running Green Lake, on the soccer pitch, or at a local pub rooting on my favorite local team, the Seattle Sounders.” According to the site, he’d just started the trip on May 1 and planned to visit 11 countries before finishing in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Swanson described the journey as “a trip of a lifetime where I will push myself further then I ever thought possible.”
“He was at a point in his life where he had raised his kids,” said Kristi Schwesinger, a friend of Swanson’s (via CBS News). “Both his boys (Devin and Raven) had graduated from high school. He had no mortgage. He had sold his condo recently and was between jobs.” Schwesinger added that Swanson “loved the game of soccer” and that after discovering One World Futbol, “decided this would be his passion the next year.”
Swanson’s last post went up May 5, inviting users to visit the trip’s Facebook page to keep tabs on his daily progress.