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Driver arrested in death of soccer ball dribbler

Jun 17, 2013

Of the Associated Press

SALEM — The driver Oregon police say fatally struck a man trying to dribble a soccer ball 10,000 miles from Seattle to Brazil for the World Cup has been arrested.

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

Richard Swanson, of Seattle, planned to dribble the ball for more than a year through 11 countries before reaching Sao Paolo, Brazil, where the opener of the World Cup soccer tournament will be played June 12, 2014.

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

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

Swanson began his intercontinental journey in Seattle on May 1. He was partly promoting the Berkeley, Calif.-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 shows him walking along the beach, kicking his blue soccer ball. He said he was looking forward to his journey south along U.S. 101.

“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 wouldn't 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. He declined to elaborate on the circumstances that led to the crash.

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