Wed, Jun 19, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Driver arrested in death of World Cup soccer ball dribbler

AP, SALEM, Oregon

The driver suspected of fatally striking a man trying to dribble a soccer ball 16,000km from Seattle to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup has been arrested, police said.

Scott van Hiatt of Neskowin, Oregon, was arrested on Monday on a charge of criminally negligent homicide, Lincoln City Police Chief Keith Kilian said.

Richard Swanson of Seattle had planned to dribble the ball for more than a year through 11 countries before reaching Sao Paolo, Brazil, where the opener of the FIFA World Cup finals is to be played on June 12 next year.

He was hit from behind by a pickup truck while walking south along busy US 101 on May 14, just a few days shy of his 43rd birthday. Hiatt stayed at the scene and has been cooperating with the investigation, police said.

Hiatt was indicted by a Lincoln County grand jury last week. He was jailed on US$50,000 bail pending his arraignment yesterday, Lincoln County District Attorney Rob Bovett said.

Swanson began his intercontinental journey in Seattle on May 1. He was partly promoting the Berkeley, California-based One World Futbol Project, which donates durable blue balls to people in developing countries.

The day of his death, Swanson posted a video on his Facebook page that showed him walking along the beach, kicking his blue soccer ball. He said he was looking forward to his journey.

“Very exciting moment today,” he said. “I’m going to be on the ocean for thousands of miles. This is my first taste of it and I’m very excited about this.”

In an earlier interview with a Seattle TV station, Swanson joked that he hoped he would not be run over on the coastal road.

“I’ll be on Highway 101, but I’ll also try to utilize any of the trails that run along the coast, just trying to get off the beaten path, there’s a lot of cars and just not get run over,” he told Q13 FOX News.

Kilian said police do not believe Swanson was dribbling the ball at the time he was hit.

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