Killed by a punch: Referee dies from soccer player’s fatal blow

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A 911 called released Wednesday recounts the moments after soccer referee John Bieniewicz was fatally punched in the head by a player during an adult-league soccer match in Michigan.

“The referee is knocked out,” a female caller frantically told a 911 operator on Sunday. “He’s not waking up.”

Bieniewicz, 44, an avid soccer fan and referee who sometimes officiated up to three games a weekend, died Tuesday. In a state where football and basketball reign, Bieniewicz’s passion was soccer, a childhood friend recalled.

“He loved the game of soccer. He loved refereeing; it was like free time to him,” Greg Acho, the friend, told CNN. “He died doing what he loved.”

The woman who called police also described the alleged suspect fleeing the scene as the victim was unconscious on the field.

“It looks like a … oh God, they’re peeling out,” she told the operator. “It’s a Jeep. It’s a black Jeep Wrangler. They’re peeling out of the parking lot right now.”

The suspect left the scene, she said. An ambulance was needed. The operator asked what did they hit him with.

“His fist, yeah, in the middle of the game,” the woman said

The woman said the referee was not breathing. Others on the field attempted CPR.

Bieniewicz was pronounced dead at Detroit Receiving Hospital after what police said was an unprovoked attack. A supervisor at Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor said he was in critical condition when he arrived the hospital, police said.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office will determine the cause of death, police said.

Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, has been charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. He was being held on $500,000 bail, police said. He pleaded not guilty. A hearing was set for July 10.

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