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Soccer community mourns death of UC Berkeley athlete

Soccer community mourns the loss of UC Berkeley athlete Eloi Vasquez

The soccer community is mourning the loss of a UC Berkeley athlete who disappeared after a frat party Saturday and was later discovered to have been fatally struck by a car on the 10 Freeway.

Eloi Vasquez had aspirations of becoming of a professional soccer player and could have played for a Major League Soccer team, his coach said. So when the San Rafael native went missing over the weekend during a trip with his teammates to Los Angeles, friends, family and the soccer community rallied to find him.

But on Monday investigators discovered the 19-year-old freshman had been killed two days earlier. After leaving a party held at the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity near USC, the Marin County resident was running across the 10 Freeway when he was hit by a car, according to authorities.

The news of his death sent shockwaves through the soccer community.

“Our condolences to the family of @CalMensSoccer player Eloi Vasquez,” the Los Angeles Galaxy tweeted.

The NCAA also responded to the death of Vasquez, saying “We join Cal in mourning the loss of soccer player Eloi Vasquez.”

MLS player Connor Brandt, who plays with the New York City FC, said “sad news in the soccer community today. Rest In Paradise to the young freshman Eloi Vasquez from @CalMensSoccer.”

Vasquez’ disappearance spawned a citywide search and social-media campaign as his family pleaded for the public's help and a $100,000 reward was offered for his safe return.

Vasquez had driven from Northern California to Los Angeles with his soccer friends for spring break, his grandmother, Bonnie Margolin, said.

He was last seen leaving a fraternity party on foot about 1:30 a.m. Saturday after telling a friend he wanted to go to the beach.

A friend of Vasquez told KNBC-TV Channel 4 that she received a call from him about 2:18 a.m., and that he said he was very scared and lost. Seven minutes later, he ran in front of a Highland Park woman's car on the freeway and was fatally struck, the California Highway Patrol said.

The CHP and the Los Angeles Police Department linked Vasquez’s disappearance to the deadly crash, and notified his family Monday.

Vasquez was a midfielder on the UC Berkeley men’s soccer team and appeared in 12 games during his freshman season, according to a profile on the team's website.

He was devoted to the game and trained so much on his off days that his coaches changed the locks on the equipment sheds to prevent him from overexerting himself, said UC Berkeley men's soccer head coach Kevin Grimes.

"It was a safe bet he was headed to the MLS," Grimes said at a news conference Monday after Vasquez's death was announced. 

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