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Utah soccer referee Ricardo Portillo dies week after being punched
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ricardo Portillo's miracle never came.

The 46-year-old soccer referee died Saturday, after a week in a coma.

The Unified Police Department press release announcing Portillo's death said the 17-year-old boy accused of punching Portillo remains in a juvenile detention facility. He has not been formally charged with any crime.

"Formal charges will be screened early next week with the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office," the press release said. "Since Portillo has passed away additional charges will be screened in connection with his death."

Portillo died at 9:33 p.m. at Intermountain Medical Center, according to the news release. An autopsy will be conducted.

According to a police report, the trouble began April 27 at a youth match at Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorville. As players jostled for position, Portillo saw the goalkeeper push an opponent with his hands.

Portillo lifted his "Yellow Card," issuing a warning to the 17-year-old boy. He then began writing the infraction in his official's notebook.

According to the police report, Portillo probably never saw the blow coming — a powerful punch to the head.

Feeling dizzy, Portillo sat down and began vomiting blood.

"He was laying on the ground, on his left side in a fetal position," Officer Jason Huggard wrote. "Ricardo was complaining of pain in his face, back and [of] being nauseated. ... He had spit up a small amount of blood in his saliva."

Police arrested the player two days after the incident. The boy's identity has not been released.

Witnesses told police the teenage goalie was playing in his first game for the La Liga Continental de Futbol squad.

Portillo's family asked for privacy on Saturday. At a press conference Thursday at Intermountain Medical Center, and with Portillo's prognosis grim, the family described their sorrow.

"This is really hard … it is destroying our whole family," said Johana Portillo, a 26-year-old daughter. "This person caused us a lot of pain, for his daughters. ... We hope for a miracle that he'll be OK."

"I just want justice for my dad and we're gonna get it," Johana Portillo said later.

She added that if the player spends the rest of his life imprisoned, "it's not going to bring my daddy back."

jdobner@sltrib.com

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