A Costa Rican soccer player was killed when he jumped into a crocodile-infested river and was devoured by one of the beasts in front of horrified bystanders.
Frightening footage captured the large pre-historic creature swimming through the water last week with the lifeless body of Jesus “Chucho” Lopez Ortiz clenched inside its jaws.
Ortiz, 29, had jumped into the Cañas River from a bridge that was closed for fishing because of the presence of crocodiles in the water, said Santa Cruz Police Sergeant Marcelino Hernandez, according to newspaper The Tico Times.
The disturbing incident happened near the town of Santa Cruz in the province of Guanacaste, approximately 140 miles from Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose.
Ortiz was a member of Deportivo Río Cañas, an amateur club team located in Carrillo, who confirmed the death in a statement on Facebook.
“With deep sorrow, we make public the death of our player Jesus Lopez Ortiz (Chucho) may God enjoy. Rest in Peace Chucho, we join the pain of all your family,” the team said.
The animal remained in the water as it held Ortiz’s body in its grip while witnesses continued to record the cruel event.
Local authorities shot and killed the crocodile to recover Ortiz’s remains, a Costa Rican Red Cross spokesperson told the outlet.
Crocodiles are considered protected animals in the Latin American country and the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy prohibits the hunting or killing of protected animals.
Ortiz leaves behind two children, ages 8 and 3, as he is remembered as a family man, coach and player.
“We will remember you in the many facets of your sporting life as a coach, football player and also as a family father. You will always live in our hearts Chucho, fly high friend.’
A funeral was held for Ortiz on Thursday, which was attended by “thousands of people” who flooded the streets to say “goodbye to Chucho,” the team said.
In October 2022, an 8-year-old boy was mauled to death by a crocodile in the Costa Rican city of Limón.
Julio Otero Fernández was decapitated by the reptile before it dragged the boy’s body into the Matina River on Oct. 30.