Tragic Fort Myers Boating Accident Claims Life of UF Diving Coach


A tragic boating accident off the coast of Bokeelia, located on Pine Island, has claimed the life of a 61-year-old who served the University of Florida as a beloved diving coach since 1989.

Fort Myers boating accident lawyers have learned that the incident occurred when the coach’s vessel was involved in a head-on collision with an oncoming vessel. Witnesses reported that the boats turned into one another after turning a curve in Jug Creek. The diving coach, Donnie Craine, was ejected from the boat.

Survived by his wife and three adult children, he was in Southwest Florida for an annual fishing trip. He had served as a diving coach at the University of Florida from 1976 to 1981, and later returned after working for a time at the University of Arkansas and Louisiana State University.

There may be several lessons to be gleaned from the incident, which is still under investigation. But perhaps the biggest of those is that it doesn’t matter how experienced a person is in the water. Boating accidents can happen to anyone at any time, which is why it is imperative to always be prepared and to follow all the necessary precautions.

In 2012, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that Florida was No. 1 for boating accident deaths in the country. There were 61 boating fatalities in the state that year, compared to 52 in California, 37 in Texas and 36 in Louisiana. Other states in the top 10 included New York, North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia. (Two states tied for 5th and 7th place.)

Perhaps somewhat encouraging is that the fatality rate in Florida has dipped slightly in recent years. Where it stood at 8.4 per 100,000 registered vessels in the state in 2010, it dropped to 6.1 per 100,000 vessels in 2012. That year, there were nearly 1 million registered vessels in the state.There were also 386 boating-related injuries, a slight drop from the 431 reported a year earlier.

Most of those accidents occur in March (during spring break) and July (the height of boat season).

Of those 61 fatalities, 22 percent involved falls overboard, 7 collision with another vessel, 6 collision with a fixed object, 5 flooding and four capsizing. Other causes of boat-related fatalities included falling in the boat, grounding and a skier striking an object. The vast majority of fatalities occurred when boats were in cruise mode.

Officials also reported in 2012 that they issued nearly 3,100 citations for violation of boating safety and equipment regulations, nearly 600 citations for reckless operation of a vessel and more than 300 for operation of a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that every 2.5 hours, someone in the U.S. is injured or killed in a boating accident.

Some of the best ways to prevent a boating accident is to be prepared. The USCG recommends:

  • Completing a certified boating safety course;
  • Conducting a vessel safety check prior to heading out on the water;
  • Know your limits when kayaking, paddle-boarding or canoeing;
  • Educate yourself on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning aboard a vessel;
  • Never operate a vessel impaired by alcohol or drugs. Not only is it extremely dangerous, it’s illegal;
  • Wear your life jacket;
  • Prepare a float plan.

If you have been injured in Florida boating accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.