Florida diving coach Donnie Craine killed in boating accident

Jaime Applefield

The Gator Nation lost a beloved coach and an original character on Thursday.

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.

Florida's current crop of divers expressed their sadness and shock.

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.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Craine's family and friends.

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