updated 07/31/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 07/31/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT
A May graduate of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Tassio became the first foreigner to die during the festival of San Fermin's running of the bulls, but the 13th person to be fatally-gored since 1924. He had arrived in Pamplona early that morning with college friend Jim Quinn, 22. They were ending a six-week European tour before Tassio was to begin an engineering job at Motorola, Inc., not far from his family's home in the Chicago suburbs. The two stayed up most of the night partying before getting in place for the run. Quinn was nervous; Tassio was not. "Matthew told me I was worrying too much," Quinn says. "It was his style to assume the positive."
On July 14, Tassio's parents, Jim, a financial analyst at Quaker Oats, and Cindy, a special-education administrator, went to Pamplona to bring their son home. They visited the site of the tragedy and walked the length of the encierro. "They finished the run for Matthew," says his aunt Cindy Ward. Though friends say Tassio was no reckless adventurer, they can understand his desire to embrace every experience on his first trip abroad. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal," says Erik Sachs, a college friend. "If I had been there, I'd have done it. Now it's like we're not indestructible. We're young, but not indestructible."