Tragedy claims life of Seattle man attempting to dribble soccer ball to Brazil for charity

RichardSwansonBreakawayBrazil (Swanson)

By DAN KARELL

A man dribbling a soccer ball from Seattle to Brazil was hit by a truck on Tuesday morning in Lincoln City, Oregon, and pronounced dead at a local hospital that evening.

Richard Swanson, a Seattle native, had decided to dribble a soccer ball 10,000 miles to Brazil for charity. He was using a ball made by One World Futbol, which are made to be nearly indestructible and are donated to children in developing nations around the world.

But just two weeks into his journey, a truck driver hit the 42-year-old along U.S. route 101, a coastal stretch of road that runs through Lincoln City, Oregon. According to reports, the truck driver has not been charged by police.

Swanson was set to travel through eleven countries in an effort to arrive in Sao Paulo at the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, according to his website, breakawaybrazil.com.

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63 Responses to Tragedy claims life of Seattle man attempting to dribble soccer ball to Brazil for charity

  1. Travis says:

    Very sad, wonder why the truck driver wasn’t charged in the case. Seems fairly clear he ran this guy over.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Don’t have the details of the story, but if the man killed was dribbling a soccer ball on the side of a highway, and accidentally wound up in the road (possibly as he tried dribbling the soccer ball) you can’t really charge the driver with anything since he was legally driving on a highway, where pedestrians aren’t supposed to be. Again, I don’t know what exactly happened, but that scenario would explain why the driver wouldn’t be charged.

    • Jake says:

      Very sad, but also very hard to know without having a lot more specifics whether the driver should be charged.

    • Jay says:

      Because he was on the shoulder dribbling a soccer ball. Even if the driver encroached the shoulder, it will just be argued that this guy shouldn’t have been doing an activity that prevented him from paying full attention to the road conditions in an area he shouldn’t have been in the first place.

    • Travis says:

      He was wearing a GPS tracker for this event evidently so you can see pretty much exactly where it happened, really sad

    • krazymunky says:

      101 is really narrow. probably only 2 lanes.

      • Danny says:

        Pacific 101 in Oregon is extremely narrow, and winding all down the coast. There are many sports where the road literally drops off into the Pacific Ocean.

        101 has heavy RV and tractor trailer traffic. It’s dangerous for anyone that walks/bikes/hikes up and down that road. Deaths happen every year as a result.

        Sad, but a fact of life on this stretch of road. It happens all the time. Just because someone is hit and killed that doesn’t mean there is a per se crime that has occurred. Sometimes an “accident” is an “accident.”

    • Josh says:

      Just so we’re all clear, not charged yet doesn’t mean he can’t be charged eventually if the facts suggest he should be. (although the GPS tracker suggests he was probably into the road)

  2. Gnarls says:

    This is very tragic, but he died living out a dream. Most of us never take part in anything wholly “outside the box.” Anyone know if he has a family? If so, I hope they’re well taken care of.

  3. Jay says:

    It is awful that he died but as a transportation civil engineer that does roadway design, shoulders are not meant for pedestrians to walk on, especially on busy streets. If there is no sidewalk you can’t be occupied by dribbling a soccer ball, you need to be walking with your full attention on the road and the cars around you. No, motorists should not be driving into the shoulder but again it’s not a place where pedestrians should be, which is why the driver isn’t being charged with anything.

    • solles says:

      this wasmy initialthought…yes this is sad but also kind of a dumb thing to be doing.

  4. joel says:

    jeez thats sad.

  5. Old School says:

    First and foremost, a noble cause for something he was passionate about.

    With that said, the more details I’m hearing, the more I’m baffled at how incredibly irresponsible the circumstances that caused this accident were.

    • solles says:

      do go on…

      • Old School says:

        There’s nothing additional that needs to be added.

        • George Baldwin says:

          It’s like that guy that rode his motorcycle without a helmet and would protest laws to that forced drivers to use helmets. He was at a rally/drive had an accident, bashed his head and died. Obviously he was living his dream of not wearing a helmet, but it was incredibly stupid.

          I’m not saying this guy was a moron, but c’mon, any body with some common sense should have been like ‘maybe I shouldn’t dribble this ball on the highway.’

          • William the Terror says:

            Then again, there was a time in California when the law said all motorcyclists had to wear a helmet. That’s all it said, it didn’t specify where you had to wear it. One outlaw biker wore his helmet on his knee to protest the helmet law. He was pulled over, ticketed and ordered to put the helmet on his head, which he did. A quarter mile after pulling away from being ticketed, the bike hit a slick spot on the road and went down, throwing the biker who, as luck would have it, broke his kneecap.

            • Riggity says:

              That reminds me of a young girl who played little league baseball in a league that required all players to use a cup…she wore it on her ankle…

  6. jonk says:

    Obviously none of us know the details, but the Oregonian story said the ball was found with him which would suggest maybe he wasn’t actually dribbling it when he was hit? (Or maybe it didn’t travel far when he was struck.) Anyway, regardless of whether he was dribbling, that stretch of highway has blind curves and is often foggy and with little to no shoulder at some spots he could have been struck even if he was fully alert.

    • drew11 says:

      Sad, but these highways are just not designed for trekking. I remember a relative of the Dalai Lama was killed in Florida a couple years ago doing a similar charity walk.

    • skyman says:

      I live down the road from Lincoln City, know the road well. It is true it’s not made for trekking, however, hundreds of bikers do it every year, which I consider somewhat crazy. I think walking it would be easier than biking it.

      If he was on the shoulder, it’s still the fault of the driver. It was not foggy yesterday, quite the opposite it was a beautiful day and it occurred in the morning, when there would be little glare.

  7. tim says:

    Didn’t his parents teach him to not play in the street?

  8. William the Terror says:

    The Timbers/Sounders rivalry is getting out of hand. I kid. I kid.

  9. pjsmoov says:

    This is indeed a tragedy and I hope the pain his family and friends feel is fleeting. But a part of me is little disturbed by this. He appears to be an idealistic SWPL who believed that good intentions could mitigate the danger of kicking a ball, or even walking alone, from Washington state to Brazil. Statistically speaking, there are lots of less dangerous, less conspicuous, and more effective ways to help the poor. And, if the above information is accurate, his sons will now spend their remaining lives without a father.

    • George Baldwin says:

      EXACTLY!

      • George Baldwin says:

        I grew up in Latin America and if this guy had reached Brasil safely, I would have been very surprised. It’s not only terrible driving in LA, but disease, gangs, and a host of other things that would have led to his demise.

  10. Brett says:

    I’m sorry, but I am not so swayed by the “feel good nature” of his charitable gesture that I can ignore how monumentally stupid this man was to attempt such a foolish act. Dribbling a ball on a highway shoulder? “Oh, I wonder if anything is inside this gas tank. Let me light a match so I can see into it…”

    This is “Into the Wild” all over again–the way people idolized Chris McCandless for “getting back to nature” because he died in Alaska, less than two miles from a major roadway, simply due to the fact that he was stupid enough to enter the wilderness without a proper map or rations.

    • pjsmoov says:

      And he was also a selfish and remarkably self-centered guy who took advantage of the good will of his parents and friends. Oh, but the idealism made him such a tragic figure and that’s what matters most to some people.

      • jonk says:

        No, I think it’s the fact that somebody died in a tragic way that matters most to most people. Anyway, there are lots of stories of people walking across America and other places that turn out just fine and aren’t labeled selfish. And I think its a bit naive to compare this situation to McCandless’.

        • Neruda says:

          This guy has very different reasons than mcandless. He has a family and a cause and so it’s safe to assume that his journey was carefully planned although still perilous. This isn’t the same as into the wild.

          • Brett says:

            I’m not comparing their reasoning, I’m comparing the similar situations that led to each of their deaths. McCandless’ reasons were purely selfish while this guy at least had some philanthropic notion that what he was doing was going to benefit some larger cause, though that still doesn’t make his decision to kick a ball along the highway any less moronic. The fact that it was “carefully planned” only makes me think worse of him. At some point through the planning phase it should have dawned on him that this was the dumbest idea he had ever come up with.

        • Brett says:

          It’s not naive, it’s analogous.

          People are showing reverence for a person who died doing something utterly idiotic, something they chose to do in full awareness of and despite the obvious danger present.

          If I drown while on a boat with my kids, that’s a tragedy. If I drown while doing a deep free-dive (no oxygen), that’s just a consequence of my own poor decision making. What we have here is most definitely the latter.

        • pjsmoov says:

          I was referring to Chris McCandless from Into the Wild fame. And I don’t find it inappropriate at all to compare the responses of people to both situations.

    • Scott says:

      And sometimes crap just happens. Don’t be a jerk know-it-all.

      • Brett says:

        “Crap just happens”? Someone deciding to dribble a ball along the highway doesn’t “just happen”. It’s done by a specific type of person for specific reasons.

        What if this scenario were reversed. What if the truck driver swerves to avoid the idiot kicking a ball on the highway shoulder and ends up hitting someone else, or dying himself? What if you’re a family member of the truck driver or his accidental victim? Are you still so forgiving toward the guy who lived, the guy who, while fully aware of the danger of his actions, was doing the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or do you call a spade “a spade”?

    • solles says:

      Ok but cant you be a little sad for his family for a little while?

      That said yes I agree with you, not sure this reaches Darwin Award levels of stupidity but it was pretty dumb…

      • Brett says:

        Oh, I feel terrible for his family. No moreso than any of the other millions of families that lost a loved one today, but still, there’s definitely sympathy for them.

        But this isn’t one of those “Why, oh why?!” senseless kinds of deaths that make you question life and destiny and those larger machinations around us. It just makes you shake your head and think about the consequences of poor decisions.

  11. Neruda says:

    A very unusual story. I’ve done some bike tours on highway one mostly in CA and that has a lot of hairy moments with small shoulders or no shoulders. I can’t imagine walking it while kicking a ball.

  12. NaranjaFanatic says:

    A very strange story. I can’t imagine walking along highway 101. Seems like he could have walked in a lot more safely along I-5.

  13. Um, yeah says:

    Typical American soccer – rough, physical play takes out the fancy dribbler and then doesn’t get in trouble for it.

  14. Jason says:

    I may have a dark sense of humor, but this is pretty funny. Doing good for the world and gets ran over, that’s hilarious.

    • skyman says:

      Your comment borders on sociopathy. There’s nothing funny about this.

      • Joe says:

        Nah, it’s just stupidity and if people do stupid things and are killed in a rather ironic way, then it is not sociopathic. Quit using big words if you can’t use them correctly.

      • jason says:

        I’m not happy that it happened, I don’t wish bad on anyone. But it did happen, and it’s funny. Its like the teenager who got decapitated by a roller coaster by hopping over two fences that clearly said no trespassing. link to foxnews.com. I guess you’ve never seen a Louis CK, Anthony Jeselnik, or Daniel Tosh comedy show. I didn’t know the guy or his family, of course it’s sad for them, but I shared this story with everyone in the office, and they thought the story was funny too. What did he think he was going to do when he got to Mexico and some of those central american countries, just dribble through no problem? I don’t think so.

    • Brett says:

      There’s a black humor to it, a kind of karmic irony if you will, but the fact that it happened in real life sort of takes the enjoyment out of it.

    • CplDaniel says:

      Got to admit that the this does have the vibe of a Family Guy cutaway scene.

  15. Bean says:

    I’ve ridden a bicycle, and for that matter, motorcycles, and am not surprised by this death. People in cars don’t give crap about anything or anyone, and god forbid you get in their way. I’m not anti-cars either, I drive a new Ram with a 5.7 Hemi and love it. People change when they get behind the wheel, and our highways are the most dangerous place to be for pedestrians and drivers.

    It was a wonderful plan if he could’ve pulled it off, but he had to know it was increasingly dangerous.

    • Neruda says:

      Yes he had to have known the dangers and it would have been something to pull it off but he made it only to Oregon (one state away) before that danger caught up to him.

      It’s true about us as drivers (I say us because a I drive a lot too).
      I had a guy in a contractor box van yell at me yesterday while I was cycling to work. All cause he decided to impatiently pass me in the opposite lane of traffic in a quiet neighborhood road. Cycling on roads is always some degree of dangerous.

  16. Scott e Dio93 says:

    All countries have same respectful drivers. Hell, here in South Florida they can’t drive $h!+, few things makes me miss California.

  17. Little Meow says:

    how was he planning on crossing the Darien Gap or getting across the Amazon?

    • NaranjaFanatic says:

      How was he planning on walking through Mexico without getting shot?

      • RB says:

        That’s easy. How was he planning on getting through remote stretches of desert in Mexico (or elsewhere) without dying of dehydration?

    • solles says:

      probably he wasnt thinking that far ahead.

  18. Eric says:

    So sad

  19. TMI_man says:

    It sad that he died. Having drive WA to CA and back no less than 20 times, I can tell you there are a LOT of alternatives to the 101. Sad he felt the need to choose the scenic–though highly dangerous–over the somewhat safer though dull alternatives.

  20. Ray in SoCal says:

    How about taking a shorter, wider, straighter route like, let’s say Interstate 5? Sure, traffic is faster, but at least he would have a wide shoulder and significantly cut down the mileage rather than curve after curve.