Pac-10 Men's Soccer Freshman of the Year Dies in Car Accident.

Dec. 2, 2002

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State men's soccer student-athlete Joe Zaher died Sunday night due to complications from injuries suffered in a car accident in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nev. He was 18.

The accident occurred at approximately 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning when Zaher (pronounced Zay-er), a passenger, and two friends were on their way to a special late-night bowling event. In rainy conditions, the car lost control and hit a pole.

Zaher underwent seven-and-a-half hours of surgery, but was unable to overcome severe internal injuries. The driver and second passenger were not seriously injured.

'Joe was an incredible individual,' OSU coach Dana Taylor said. 'He brought a unique, fun-loving character and dedication to the team.

'On the field, his touches were brilliant. He was able to elude defenders and had a knack for finishing his opportunities. He epitomized hard work and dedication.

'Off the field, he was everybody's best friend,' Taylor said. 'His love for this university and his teammates was second to none. He grew so much in the last four months as a person and an athlete.

'Joe will be dearly missed on the field, but more so off the field for who he was and what he brought to the team as an individual.'

Zaher was recently named the Pacific-10 Conference Freshman of the Year after setting an OSU freshman scoring record with 25 points. He led the Pac-10 with four game-winning goals, and was a key element in OSU's resurgence in 2002, helping the Beavers to a school-record 13 wins and their first-ever appearance in the NCAA College Cup.

'This is a tragic loss not only for the men's soccer team, but for the Oregon State community,' OSU Director of Athletics Bob De Carolis said. 'Joe's family and friends have our deepest sympathies, and they will be in our thoughts and prayers. Joe will be deeply missed.'

Zaher is survived by his parents, Jack and Maureen, brothers Mike, Zac and Sean, and sister, Alle.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Joe Zaher Scholarship Fund. Those wishing to make a donation should make a check payable to Jack Zaher, with a notation directing that it be put toward the Joe Zaher Scholarship Fund. Checks can be dropped off or mailed to the Oregon State men's soccer office, Gill Coliseum room 132, Corvallis, Ore., 97331.

Zaher is the second member of the OSU squad to pass away in the last five months following the death of Stephen Hensor in August after a year-long battle with liver cancer.

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