Víctor Hugo Hurtado was refereeing Sunday’s Bolivian first division match between Always Ready and Oriente Petrolero when he collapsed on the pitch midgame due to a reported heart attack. Stadium support staff took Hurtado to a local hospital, where the 31-year-old suffered another heart attack and died.
This video depicts the moment Hurtado fell to the pitch just minutes after the second half had begun:
This one shows the incident in more depth:
According to the AP, Always Ready’s club president and doctor both confirmed that Hurtado died from a heart attack. The doctor explained that the referee had suffered two cardiac arrests: one on the pitch and the second, fatal one at the hospital. It is still unclear what caused the heart attack, though it is possible it had something to do with the extreme altitude of Always Ready’s stadium. The venue sits nearly 13,000 feet above sea level and resides in El Alto, which Wikipedia says is “the highest major metropolis in the world.”
Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, tweeted his condolences to Hurtado’s family. The Bolivian soccer federation shared a similar sentiment on Facebook, and declared a week of mourning for all of Bolivian soccer.
The match between Always Ready and Oriente eventually resumed once Hurtado had been escorted to the hospital. Always Ready won, 5-0.