Blind runner's guide helping him finish half-marathon after death

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Blind runner's guide helping finish half-marathon after death, Mayra Moreno reports. (KTRK)

Samuel Lopez is a volunteer with the nonprofit organization Catapult. Lopez was paired with Robert Peck, a young blind man who knew no boundaries.

"He wanted me to teach him to swim and I said that would be scary and sure enough I started seeing pictures on Facebook him in a pool," said Lopez.

When Peck heard about Catapult and its mission, he laced up and never quit.

"Full of life and full of energy, he modeled the tagline of Catapult, which is turning disabilities into capabilities," said Jarrett Hubert, co-founder of Catapult.

Hubert saw a big need for athletes like Peck who were physically challenged, but wanted to compete.

"Our mission is to promote accessibility to races and also provide a sense of community and encouragement," he said.

It was just what Peck was looking for, and from one workout to another, Peck and Samuel became more like uncle and nephew.

"I wasn't doing it for a medal or anything. I was out there to have fun with him," said Lopez.

Sadly Peck's life ended days after the New Year when he was hit by a driver in the 5800 block of Tidwell. He was crossing the road with another blind friend. The car didn't stop. Feeling fine, Peck refused to go to the hospital but later that evening he was found unresponsive. He was in a coma for several days before he died.

Lopez is still determined to finish the half-marathon Sunday.

"I think it was going to be an emotional run anyway without him being there," said Lopez.

Lopez will take Peck's running shoes along for the adventure one last time in his honor. He will be carrying the shoes along for the 13.1 mile run, knowing Peck will be there in spirit and crossing the finish line.

"He would love it," said Lopez. "Anything I suggested, he loved it. I think he did it to be around me."

HFD told Eyewitness News that a person involved in an accident has the right to refuse being taken to the hospital if the person is coherent and vital signs are fine. HFD is looking to see if EMTs might have missed anything soon after the accident.

Meantime, the driver who hit Peck has not come forward.
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