Richard Swanson, a 42-year-old embarking on what was supposed to be an inspirational, life-changing adventure, had his journey abruptly brought to its end on an Oregon highway Tuesday in a depressing, life-ending accident made all the more grizzly because it was caught on his digital tracker. Swanson was dribbling a soccer ball from Seattle, Washington, to São Paulo, Brazil, in anticipation for the World Cup — and for charity — when he was struck and killed by a truck on the far West coast of Oregon, only 1/25th of the way to his goal on a year-long trip by foot. "Police in Lincoln City, Ore., said 42-year-old Richard Swanson was hit at about 10 a.m. while walking south along U.S. Highway 101 near the city limits. He was declared dead at a hospital. The driver has not been charged," the Associated Press reported late last night. Seattle to Lincoln City is about 260 miles. Seattle to São Paulo is around 6,770 miles.
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Of course, it was supposed to be a much longer trip — a full year — and for the good cause of One Futbol, a charity that provides underprivileged children across the globe with indestructible soccer balls. As Swanson wrote on the Facebook page for his trip:
I’m heading off for this amazing adventure on May 1st 2013 to dribble a One World Futbol from Seattle to Brazil. I will spend over a year travelling through North America, Central America, and South America before arriving in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup .
Swanson's was a legitimate feel-good story — the Facebook page, a website, a distinct presence in local media — and his site even has a real-time GPS tracking feature. And that's where the doubly macabre ending comes in: Here is the last soccer dribble Swanson ever took, based on his GPS-enabled phone map:
Here's how Swanson's family announced his death on the Facebook page:
If there's any good news from any of this sudden sadness, at least Swanson's publicity had built up enough of a presence that his charitable message lives on. The Facebook page is gaining dozens of "likes" per minute, and there's been an outpouring of sympathy, from people all around the world:
Devin Swanson (the main commenter on the Facebook announcement) is one of Swanson's two sons. According to the AP, both of them had graduated high school, and Swanson had recently sold his condo — part of the reason he was able to afford his trip in the first place. "I felt destined that I should go on this trip," Swanson told The Longview Daily News on May 7, a week before an oceanside journey of hope turned into another car accident turned deadly.