A 2019 Eastern View High School graduate—gone too soon—is being remembered as a fun-loving person who elicited laughter from all who knew him.
Eighteen-year-old Aris Eduardo Lobo-Perez, of Culpeper, was found dead on Sept. 12 in a cell at New River Regional Jail in Dublin, Virginia in Pulaski County. He had started his freshman year at nearby Radford University on August 26, majoring in sports management.
Victoria Garcia met Lobo-Perez as a fellow student at Eastern View.
“Aris was such a fun-loving guy who cared so deeply about his family and friends,” she said in an email Monday to the Star-Exponent. “Wherever he was, everyone was laughing and smiling. He kept our spirits up and will always be loved for that. May he rest in peace.”
On Friday, Garcia helped set up a GoFundMe fundraiser page, “In honor of Aris Lobo,” to help with funeral costs. As of Monday afternoon, nearly $9,300 had been donated.
“In honor of who we grew up with, who we laughed with, who we shared our lives with, and who we currently cry for, wish for any donations to help cover the cost of any future services in honor of his memory,” the page states.
An avid soccer player with a twin sister, Lobo-Perez died tragically.
The Radford University Police Department arrested him on Sept. 11 and transported him to the jail about nine miles away. Lobo-Perez was charged with public swearing or intoxication in public, and was committed to the jail at 11:57 p.m., according to jail superintendent Gregory Winston.
Around 7:50 a.m. the next morning, while making routine checks for security and well-being, jail personnel found Lobo-Perez unresponsive in his cell. Security and medical staff immediately administered first aid and called for EMS, who also attempted to revive the young prisoner, according to a jail statement Winston provided. Lobo-Perez was pronounced dead and his body transported for autopsy to the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke.
“We are not releasing any additional details until we have received the final investigative report from the VSP,” Winston stated in an email Monday to the Star-Exponent. “I don’t have a timeline regarding that as of yet.”
At the request of the jail superintendent, the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Wytheville Field Office is investigating the unattended death, according to VSP Spokeswoman Corrine Geller. She said Monday the investigation remains ongoing at this time, as investigators await additional information from the medical examiner’s office.
On Saturday, Lobo-Perez’s family held a yard sale at their home on Orange Road to help with funeral costs. The young man had attended Sycamore Park Elementary School and Floyd T. Binns Middle School.
“This is so sad,” posted retired Culpeper Public Schools educator Loudelia Lawson Sunday on Facebook. “I taught his older sister, Jennifer, and Aris. Such a nice family. His mother is a sweetheart.”
Lobo-Perez’s mother, Dixiana Perez, could not immediately be reached for comment by the Star-Exponent. “I have a lot of pain,” she told NBC4 news station this weekend. “I just want to know what happened to my baby.”
Citing the ongoing investigation, Radford University officials declined on Monday to release further information about the student’s arrest or death.
Vice President for Student Affairs Susan Trageser provided her statement distributed on the evening of Sept. 12 to all students, staff and faculty at Radford: “It is with great sadness that I write to let you know of the passing of Aris Eduardo Lobo-Perez.”
The brief statement continued, “It is during trying times, such as this, that our Radford family comes together and supports each other.” The university last week made available grief counselors as well as student counseling services as needed.
“I know you join me in extending our deepest sympathies to Aris’ family and friends at this very difficult time,” Trageser wrote in the statement.
According to Culpeper County General District Court records, Lobo-Perez was found guilty on July 8 of marijuana possession and purchase/possess alcohol. For the two misdemeanor offenses that occurred June 24, he was fined $937, including court costs, according to court records.
A former middle school soccer coach for Lobo-Perez remembered his talent in a post on the GoFundMe page: “I had the honor of coaching Aris for one season. He was a gifted soccer player and fast with the ball. I always remember him telling me, Coach, I’m gonna take you to the championship game … he scored all but one or two of the goals and we played in the championship game, losing to the team who hadn’t lost all season. Rest in peace, Aris.”