Eloi Vasquez, the UC Berkeley freshman and men’s soccer midfielder who went missing early Saturday morning in Los Angeles, was confirmed dead Monday by his family and LA authorities.
About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Vasquez allegedly ran across the eastbound lanes of a freeway exit near downtown LA before a car struck and killed him. Martina Reyes, the driver of the vehicle, was not arrested. She was uninjured.
Vasquez was last seen by friends at the University of Southern California’s Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity around 1:30 a.m. According to the Los Angeles Times, he reportedly told a friend he wanted to go to the beach.
“Needless to say, we’re heartbroken,” said associate athletic director Wes Mallette at a press conference. “This is unquestionably a tremendous loss for our athletic department, for our program, for our student athletes and for our entire university community.”
Men’s soccer head coach Kevin Grimes said the players and coaches spent more than an hour at a team meeting together, praying and grieving — some talking and some just processing the loss silently. Vasquez was only on the team for a little less than a year.
“His impact was huge, certainly on me,” Grimes said at the conference. “I really loved Eloi.”
Grimes called Vasquez a “fantastic” two-way midfielder and said he loved Vasquez’s technical ability and creative mind. He said Vasquez would work out for so many hours after practices or on training days that Vasquez’s other coaches had to change the locks on the equipment shed. Grimes added that he had no doubt that a Major League Soccer career was in Vasquez’s future.
Goalkeeper Alex Mangels said that while Vasquez was a bit soft-spoken, he was the kind of person who was always able to make a teammate laugh and put a smile on someone’s face.
“He brought energy to the room every time he was with us, and he meant a lot to us,” Mangels said at the conference. “It was evident he always put the team before himself.”
Vasquez had also earned a 3.35 GPA his first semester. It was that intelligence that Grimes said made him so great as a player.
“We’re in deep shock, and we’re just looking to get through it,” Grimes said.