Dec 23, 2013 1:35 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Hundreds attend vigil for UA track athlete

TUCSON - Hundreds of people lit candles at a vigil for a University of Arizona track athlete Sunday night.

Lezo Urreiztieta, 20, died after brain surgery.

His brother, Gaizka Urreiztieta, created a Facebook event for the vigil, and almost 300 people said they were attending.

"There are no words to explain what this feels like or to explain the loss that we've suffered," Gaizka Urreiztieta said. "He had a lot of big plans. He wanted to be either a plastic or a neurosurgeon. He wanted to save lives. He wanted to make a difference."

Lezo Urreiztieta wrestled and played football at Canyon Del Oro High School. He had concussion problems, so he switched to track full-time, according to his brother.

"He was going to be my best man and the best man for a lot of his good friends," Gaizka Urreiztieta said. "So the reason we have this many people here, the reason that people care is because he deserves to be honored for what a good person he was, the good person that he still is."

Thursday, Lezo Urreiztieta felt nauseous and went to the emergency room. Doctors performed a CT scan and found what they believe was a cavernous hemangioma, according to his brother.

Gaizka Urreiztieta said it was probably a genetic defect and not a result of past concussions.

Urreiztieta elected to have surgery and seemed to be recovering well, then he had a stroke. After another scan, doctors performed a second surgery, and he did not survive.

"He just had a passion for life that you don't see in most people," Gaizka Urreiztieta said. "And he loved everybody unconditionally. Everybody that knew him. I don't think anybody that I know can say a single negative thing about him."

Urreiztieta was an organ donor.


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