Eloi Vasquez, the 19-year-old college soccer player who went missing in Los Angeles early Saturday morning, was struck and killed by a car on a major interstate freeway just minutes after hanging up the phone on a friend. Now, police are trying to figure out what led the popular and promising student to attempt to cross the Santa Monica Freeway on foot.
“We don’t know how he got there, if he was dropped off or if he walked up an off ramp,” said California Highway Patrol spokesperson Edgar Figueroa.
Toxicology reports on Eloi Vasquez are expected in about six to 10 weeks. At 19, Vasquez was still well below the legal drinking age of 21. But a friend who spoke to him on the phone and was the last known person he spoke to, said that Vasquez sounded intoxicated.
When Vasquez set foot on the freeway, police say, he crossed directly into the path of a 2009 Chevy Impala driven by a 45-year-old woman from the nearby neighborhood of Highland Park. Investigators said that the woman was not exceeding the speed limit and swerved to avoid hitting Vasquez — but it was too late.
A native of Novato, California in that state’s scenic Marin County just north of San Francisco, Vasquez decided early on that he wanted to be a professional soccer player. He was was recruited out of Marin Academy by the prestigious University of California at Berkeley where he was a freshman, completing just one semester with a commendable 3.35 grade point average.
He was forced to sit out most of his freshman season with the soccer team, however, due to a knee injury. When family members were called to identify his body by the Los Angeles County Coroner on Monday, they were able to recognize him in part by his leg brace.
On Friday, Vasquez and a group of friends took a Spring Break trip from Berkeley about 375 miles south to Los Angeles where they ended up at a Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity party near the University of Southern California campus.
But around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, Vasquez left the party, telling friends he wanted to go for a walk — and that he wanted to go to the beach. But USC is in the eastern region of Los Angeles, a geographically sprawling city.
The nearest beach, Venice Beach in Venice, California, was nearly 15 miles away. So his friends turned him down.
Did Vasquez, without a car, or any money on his person — or even any form of identification — decide he was going there on his own?
All police know is that he left the party on his own at about 1:30 a.m., and that he made at least two phone calls to a female friend in northern California, telling her that he was lost, scared, and “screwed.”
That was a 2:18 a.m. Saturday. By 2:25, just seven minutes later, Eloi Vasquez was hit by the car. The student was not identified until the next day due to the lack of ID on his person.
[Image: Facebook via KABC-TV]