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UTRGV Student Athletes Affected by New Year’s Eve Istanbul Attack

3 years 3 months 2 days ago Tuesday, January 03 2017 Jan 3, 2017 January 03, 2017 9:18 PM January 03, 2017 in News

EDINBURG - The violence in the Turkish city of Istanbul hit close to home for a pair of UTRGV student athletes.

On New Year’s Eve, one gunman went on a shooting spree in a local nightclub that left close to 40 people dead.

UTRGV basketball players Onuralp Demirer and Idil Turk are from Istanbul. They said they’re partly in the U.S. because of their skills on the basketball court.

Demirer and Turk said the recent deadly incidents in Istanbul have shifted their focus.

“Everyone, my friends and my family is back in Istanbul. When something happens in Turkey, I have to focus here. But the things that happen back home is affecting me really bad,” Demirer said.

Turk said the location the gunmen attacked is a popular club in Turkey. Demirer added he celebrated his high school graduation at the place.

“As soon as I heard about it, I called my friends because I knew my parents were at home,” Demirer said.

The Istanbul native said he’s lucky none of his friends were hurt in the attack.

On Dec. 10, a bombing outside a soccer stadium near Istanbul also left more than 35 people dead. Turk said her mother supports Besiktas, a local soccer team. She said she had family members who were near the stadium the day of the attack.

“Actually three hours before the game, my aunt and uncle were walking right in front of that stadium. And it happened right after the game,” she said.

Demirer, who is also a soccer fan, said he’s also been to the stadium before.

“When big concerts happen that’s the stadium most artist choose to go to. So, I’ve been there a couple times,” he said. “These kinds of incidents happen in places that are close to you. You just become more stressed and sad.”

Turk visited her homeland over the Christmas break. While she did notice an increased security presence, she said she felt her people must keep on living their lives normally and not live in fear.

Both UTRGV athletes said they constantly reach out to family members and friends. They said they’re thankful that no one close to them was affected by the incidents in their homeland. 

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