NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) – The soccer field is where Derek Romero spent most of his high school days, and after a tragic fishing boat accident, fellow teammates are mourning his loss.
Derek Romero and Shane Marin were fishing in the gulf when their 18-foot boat capsized Tuesday night.
“I didn’t know if it was real or not, you know?”
The men floated in the water for nine hours before being rescued.
Romero later died at the hospital.
“I didn’t want to believe it, but just devastated,” said Trace Gary, a former teammate.
Romero attended New Iberia Senior High School where he played soccer.
Former coach, Kevin Hardy described Romero as, “really fun, he’s the kind of kid you want on your team.”
Former teammates, Trace Gary and Cy Kipp say there was never a dull moment when Romero was around.
“Anything that was goofy or hilarious, you know, that was Derek,” Gary said.
“He made it fun for all of us, everyone loved him around here,” Kipp said.
Principal Curt Landry has known Romero since he was a little boy.
Landry was also Romero’s Boy Scout leader.
“On some of our early camping trips he was the most enthusiastic and spirited scout,” Landry said.
Landry said Romero was a bit of a trouble maker in the classroom, but he always managed to bring a smile to your face.
“The life of the party. Everybody wanted to be around Derek. He was full of energy and fun to be around,” Landry said.
Gary was a sophomore when Romero, a senior at the time, took him under his wing.
“He was one of the reasons that I wanted to go to practice. He just made it enjoyable. We bonded,” Gary said.
Gary and Kipp say Romero was more than a teammate.
“He was like a brother to everyone who ever played with him,” Kipp said.
“He was like the gel that held the soccer team together,” Gary said.
Smiling through tears, Gary said Romero will be missed but never forgotten.