Soccer Referee Dies After Teenage Player Punched Him in the Face
By Staff Writer | May 05, 2013 03:28 PM EDT
Ricardo Portillo, 46, died Saturday after slipping into a coma. Police suspect a 17-year-old of punching Portillo in the face during a soccer game he was refereeing, after he issued the teen a yellow card.
"The suspect was close to Portillo and punched him once in the face as a result of the call," Unified police spokesman Justin Hoyal said in a press release.
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The teen, whose name hasn't been released because he is a minor, has been booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault. Hoyal said authorities will consider additional charges since Portillo has died.
An autopsy is planned. No cause of death was released.
The teenager was playing goalie during a game at Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorsville, Utah when Portillo issued him a yellow card for pushing an opposing forward trying to score a goal.
The teenager, who had a bigger build than Portillo, began arguing with the referee, before suddenly punching him in the face. Portillo seemed fine at first but then felt dizzy and needed to be held. He sat down and started vomiting blood.
When police arrived, the teenager was gone and Portillo was lying on the ground. Portillo told EMTs that his face and back hurt and he felt nauseous. He had no visible injuries and remained conscious. He was in fair condition when he was taken to the Intermountain Medical Center.
When Portillo arrived to the hospital, he slipped into a coma with swelling in his brain. Detectives intensified their search for the goalie when they learned that Portillo's condition had worsened. By the evening, the teenager's father agreed to bring him down to speak with police.
Portillo's daughter, Johana, told reporters that she is heartbroken over the attack on her father. She said this is not the first time he has been attacked on the soccer field.
"Last Saturday when we got called we thought it wasn't that serious, we thought, 'OK, they're going to call and we'll have to go get him out again and he's going to be OK,' but it wasn't like that," she said. "This person caused us a lot of pain."
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