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Swiss hockey legend found dead in Italy

Meritxell Mir · 7 Oct 2011, 12:14

Published: 07 Oct 2011 15:42 GMT+02:00
Updated: 07 Oct 2011 12:14 GMT+02:00

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The body of former Swiss national team player Peter Jaks was found on railway tracks near Santo Spirito on the southwest cost of Italy early on Wednesday morning.

Jaks, 45, disappeared from his home in Bellizona in southern Switzerland on October 2nd, leaving his car, identity documents and mobile phone behind. He had last been seen at the railway station in Potenza, Italy, according to Swiss media reports.

Jaks told his relatives he was planning to visit his mother in the Czech Republic and sent a text message to one of his three daughters on Sunday morning.

Witnesses saw Jaks the same morning at Bellinzona railway station. He changed money and boarded a train to Italy. He was then observed by customs police at the Swiss-Italian border and was last seen alive on Monday morning at Potenza station where police officers checked his identity.

His body was discovered at 6.20am on Wednesday near the Santo Spirito level crossing. The driver of the Bari-Foggia train told police the victim did nothing to avoid the collision.

Final identification tests are still being conducted, but Italian authorities say they have enough evidence to believe the body is that of Peter Jaks. Some of his relatives recognised a tattoo on his right arm that read KRV, the initials of his daughters’ names, along with some personal belongings including a gold chain, a pair of brown shoes and a blue sweatshirt.

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Swiss media reported that Jaks may have been suffering from depression due to his divorce from his wife as well as financial problems resulting from his lack of a stable job in the last two years. Friends said Jaks was quite an introverted person.

The death of Peter Jaks means Switzerland has lost one of its most accomplished athletes. Born in the Czech Republic in 1966, his family moved to Switzerland while he was a child. His professional career started at the age of 17, and the powerful forward became a legend among hockey fans in Switzerland, donning the national team jersey in 149 games between 1986 and 1998. The holder of 13 records in the Swiss National League, Jaks played more than 800 games for the Quinto, Lugano and Zurich teams.

Meritxell Mir (news@thelocal.ch)

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