LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Family members and loved ones of Nathan Valencia, a UNLV student who died following a fraternity's amateur "fight night" event, are looking for answers.
Attorneys shared a statement on behalf of the family with 13 Action News on Friday, saying they are heartbroken and asking for privacy as they grieve.
"We will leave no stone unturned to determine how a 20-year-old ended up in a school-sanctioned amateur fight that cost him his life," the statement reads in part.
Those close to Valencia say he was an active member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at UNLV.
The attorneys say "'Kappa Sigma Fight Night' is an event that has been held annually and was well known to both UNLV and the national Kappa Sigma Fraternity."
The Kappa Sigma fraternity at UNLV hosted a "fight night" on Nov. 19 at Sahara Events Center, with a press conference and weigh-in the day before, on Nov. 18, at the UNLV Student Union Ballroom.
A flyer for the event lists "Emmanuel Aleman vs. Nathan Valencia" as the main event.
Valencia's girlfriend tells 13 Action News he collapsed five minutes or so after the fight ended.
Then, on Nov. 23, he died.
“Once I walked in there, I just had like a really weird feeling. I remember in one of the fights, someone’s head gear fell off and then during Nathan’s fight, you could see that he was just trying to get away to catch a breath," said Lacey Foster, Valencia's girlfriend.
There will be a vigil held at the UNLV Alumni Amphitheatre on campus starting at 7 p.m. on Nov. 27.
The family's full statement, via attorneys with Richard Harris Law Firm, reads:
“The Valencia family is heartbroken over the loss of Nathan. Our preliminary investigation reveals mistakes were made and safety precautions overlooked. We will be completing a full investigation to determine how UNLV and the Kappa Sigma Fraternity could allow and promote an event like this to take place. College students should not be placed in a situation where they are pitted against each other for combat. “Kappa Sigma Fight Night” is an event that has been held annually and was well known to both UNLV and the national Kappa Sigma Fraternity.
We will leave no stone unturned to determine how a 20-year-old ended up in a school-sanctioned amateur fight that cost him his life.
The family has asked for privacy during this time to grieve.”
UNLV's president sent the following message out to the entire campus today via email:
It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness I share that a member of the UNLV family is no longer with us.
Nathan Tyler Valencia has passed away following a tragic incident a week ago. Nathan was a junior at UNLV and had participated in Kappa Sigma Fraternity’s “Fight Night,” an off-campus event intended to raise money. Soon after his fight, Nathan collapsed and was taken to a hospital. We are shocked and heartbroken as we mourn the loss of one of our own. Coping with the loss of life is always difficult, especially under these circumstances. UNLV is committing all available resources to review the incident and determine how off-campus events like these can be as safe as possible.
Our deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends, and loved ones. I am sure words cannot describe their feeling of grief and emptiness. They are in our thoughts during this very difficult time. The Rebel community shares their loss.
Keith E. Whitfield, Ph.D.
A GoFundMe page has been set up seeking donations for his family.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.