Florida diving coach Donnie Craine was killed in a boating accident off the coast of Bokeelia, a community on Pine Islane in Lee County, the school announced late Thursday afternoon. He was 61.
WUFT first reported the news of Craine's death Thursday afternoon. The Associated Press reports that authorities from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission are investigating a crash in which two boats collided. NBC 2 in Fort Myers reports that none of the five other people involved in the crash required hospitalization, and that the FWC does not believe drugs or alcohol were a factor in the incident.
Craine served as Florida's diving head coach for 30 of the 37 years of his coaching career, coming to Gainesville in 1976 and departing in 1981 for stints at Arkansas and LSU, then returning in 1989 and coaching the Gators from then until the present. Craine coached five NCAA champions while at Florida, and was named SEC Diving Coach of the Year four times.
Athletic director Jeremy Foley and head swimming and diving coach Gregg Troy released statements on Craine's passing through GatorZone:
"Our thoughts are with Mindy, their family and all who had a chance to know and be coached by him," said Athletics Director Jeremy Foley. "This is such sad news about Donnie Craine. Donnie loved being a Gator and spent his career here coaching our men’s and women’s diving athletes. He will be missed."
"You’ll never meet a nicer guy than Donnie Craine," Head Coach Gregg Troy said. "He was caring for not just the athletes he worked with, but for everyone he came in touch with. He was a tremendous family man. This is a great loss to everyone."
On social media, many whom Craine touched, including members of the diving community and the Florida athletic program, made tributes of their own.
Tiger fans, please keep the Craine family in your thoughts and prayers after the death of Florida Diving coach Donnie Craine this morning.— LSU Swimming &Diving (@LSUSwimDive) April 25, 2014
We are saddened by the loss of coach Donnie Craine, who passed away today in a boating accident. The diving community will miss you, Donnie.— USA Diving (@USADiving) April 24, 2014
Thoughts & prayers go out to @GatorZoneSwimDv & the family of Donnie Craine. Sending much love, support & sympathy to Gville this evening!— Tyler Fenwick (@UTCoachFenwick) April 24, 2014
Sad news. Donnie Craine, @umichswimdive diver ('74-'76) & U of Fla diving coach, died in a boating accident. Prayers for his family, friends— Dave Brandon (@DaveBrandonAD) April 25, 2014
Heavy heart today...RIP Donnie Craine, an all around great guy and saddening loss for Gator Nation.— Amanda Butler (@CoachButlerUF) April 24, 2014
Every time I fill the cooler I will think of you. No words can describe our loss! We were blessed to have known you! pic.twitter.com/oOupkmmcu9— roland thornqvist (@RolandTFlorida) April 25, 2014
R.I.P. to head @GatorZoneSwimDv diving coach Donnie Crane. He was a great man. You will be missed— Ryan Lochte (@RyanLochte) April 24, 2014
Florida's current crop of divers expressed their sadness and shock.
Truly in shock over the loss of a great man and the best coach I've had. Donnie, you will be missed greatly and always remembered— Julia Hackett (@huliahackett) April 24, 2014
Just keep thinking it's not true and everything will return to normal on Monday morning— Julia Hackett (@huliahackett) April 25, 2014
Still waiting for someone to wake me up from this nightmare— Delaney Dye (@Delaneydye) April 24, 2014
Florida diver Jaime Applefield added this caption:
This smile will forever be looking over me. Being a student-athlete here at UF would not of been possible without you. You will be greatly missed❤️
One image of Craine that will last was his dive into the pool after Florida's men took first at the 2014 SEC Championships, captured on video by Florida diver Zach Hernandez.
A picture of the moment, tweeted by Florida swimmer Brad deBorde, will also linger.
This guy had a lot of heart! You will be missed, Coach pic.twitter.com/KPFNzkd8Vb— Brad deBorde (@B_raddeBorde) April 24, 2014
Last memory of Florida dive coach Donnie Craine at SECs. Sure was one crazy celebratory dive. RIP pic.twitter.com/nKchhV2857— Noah Richter (@BlackDiver629) April 24, 2014
Our thoughts and prayers are with Craine's family and friends.