Former Oregon LB Fotu Leiato found dead in Eugene

Dr. Saturday
Fotu T. Leiato II (No. 19) had 37 tackles in his Oregon career. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Fotu T. Leiato II (No. 19) had 37 tackles in his Oregon career. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Former Oregon football player Fotu Leiato was found dead Friday near the site of a car crash in Eugene.

According to the Eugene Register Guard, Leiato’s body was located about five hours after the early Friday morning crash. Investigators believe the driver of the car lied when he said there were no passengers. The driver was later cited for DUI.

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Leiato was 21 years old.

From the Register Guard:

About five hours after the crash, police said, a body was found near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Kinsrow Avenue after a woman walking in the area saw a hand sticking out of brush. Eugene police spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin late Friday night identified the victim as Leiato, who she said was a passenger in the vehicle.

Investigating officers believe that the 22-year-old driver, identified by police as Pedro Chavarin Jr., lied to them early Friday morning after he crashed a car and said he had no passengers. Leiato’s body was found partially covered with brush on a gravel path about 7 a.m.

Police first responded to the area just after 2:30 a.m. Friday in response to a single-vehicle rollover crash near the intersection. The car, a 2014 Kia sedan, rolled off the road and into some heavy brush before coming to a stop. Chavarin told police that he was alone in his car and not carrying any passengers. He was taken to a local hospital and later cited for driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Leiato was recently dismissed from the Oregon team

The football program confirmed in May that Leiato had been dismissed from the program. The linebacker was twice arrested in 2018, including for theft, criminal trespassing and criminal mischief in April. In that incident, Leiato was accused of damaging and removing a parking boot from his vehicle. All three charges were misdemeanors.

In January, Leiato was arrested on another trespassing charge.

Following the second arrest, Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal decided to dismiss Leiato from the program.

Before his dismissal, Leiato was competing for a starting spot

Leiato, a senior from Steilacoom, Washington, had a big performance in the Ducks’ spring game when he recorded five tackles and three sacks. He was considered a frontrunner to start at the team’s “Duck” position, which is a hybrid linebacker/defensive back role.

Entering the 2018 season, Leiato appeared in 27 games for the Ducks, including on special teams. He had seven tackles as a freshman in 2015, 16 tackles as a sophomore in 2016 and 14 tackles as a junior.

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens and Cristobal released the following statement Saturday morning: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Fotu, and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. He will be remembered and missed by all who knew him.”

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