In an incident that’s sent shockwaves through the global sporting community, a 29-year-old soccer player from Costa Rica was tragically killed by a crocodile while cooling off from a workout.
According to Spanish sports outlet Marca, Jesus Alberto Lopez Ortiz — better known as “Chucho” to local fans — died in the Canas River last week after swimming in a dangerous part of the watercourse.
Fishermen, local police said, were known to avoid the area due to the presence of the reptilian predators.
Witnesses said that Chucho had jumped from a bridge into the water during his exercises. It was unclear whether or not he drowned or the crocodile’s attack was what killed him, but the croc dragged his body away and police needed to use firearms to retrieve it.
His team, Deportivo Río Cañas, issued a series of statements about the player’s death on their Facebook page.
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“With deep sorrow we make public the death of our player Jesus Lopez Ortiz (Chucho) may God rest his soul,” the first statement, issued on July 29, read.
In a second statement, the team shared a picture of the player, along with a caption that read, “God receives you in His arms dear friend, forever in our hearts. We will miss you.”
The team would later discourage people from sharing video of the footballer’s tragic death on social media: “Please respect the grieving family, don’t upload videos about what happened and if they already uploaded delete them, there are children, mother, father, brothers and Lady of Jesus who deserve respect,” a statement from the team read.
Have you ever seen a crocodile or alligator in the wild?
Yes: 63% (187 Votes)
No: 37% (110 Votes)
Video of the player’s funeral shows roughly a thousand friends, family members and fans paying their respects to the husband, father and footballer:
“Today we said goodbye Chucho, today around a thousand people we accompany you representing all your friends, family and the whole country that was with you,” the team said in a caption to the video, according to a Facebook translation.
“Thank you all on behalf of the Lopez Ortiz family, on behalf of the mothers of their children, on behalf of all the people of Rio Cañas (New and Old) but mainly thanks to all on behalf of their children Derian and Eithan, thanks to all the country who helped this family, simply thank you for everything.”
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Sadly, the death is a reminder of the stark dangers often posed by God’s creation for those who don’t respect it.
According to the Tico Times, Costa Rica’s English-language newspaper of record, “[c]rocodiles are plentiful in Costa Rica’s rivers and protected wilderness areas.
“While they draw many tourists hoping to spot the prehistoric creatures, crocodiles pose serious risks to humans who get too close,” the outlet noted. “The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) is currently investigating ways to better control the crocodile population and prevent future attacks.”
Nature may indeed be beautiful, but it can also turn deadly in the blink of an eye. That’s, sadly, what happened to Chucho: What looked like an opportunity to cool off became the last thing he ever did.
There’s a reason why the collected knowledge of locals is vitally important to a society’s survival. Fishermen knew to avoid the bridge due to the danger posed by the predators. If only their advice was heeded — or more widely known — perhaps Cucho would still be alive today.
Whatever the case may be, our thoughts and prayers are with the Lopez Ortiz family at this difficult time.
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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture