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Holy Cross coach involved in fatal crash retires after 34 years

The longtime women’s rowing coach at the College of the Holy Cross announced his retirement Friday, a month after he was involved in a horrific crash in Florida that killed a member of the rowing team and injured 13 people.

Patrick Diggins, head women’s rowing coach and director of rowing, is retiring after 34 years at the Worcester college, the school announced Friday.

“I thank Patrick for his years of dedication and service to the College,” Holy Cross director of athletics Marcus Blossom said in the statement. “I wish him luck as he steps into this new chapter.”

Diggins, 55, was driving a passenger van carrying members of the crew team in Vero Beach, Fla., on Jan. 15 when it collided with a pickup truck, killing sophomore rower Grace Mason Rett.

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Witnesses later told police that Diggins had turned left on a green light and failed to yield to oncoming traffic, sparking the accident, according to a police report. The crash remains under investigation.

Twenty-two members of the Holy Cross crew team and its coaches were traveling in a two-van convoy, heading to practice at a nearby training camp at the time of the crash.

Diggins graduated from Holy Cross in 1986 and joined the coaching staff as an assistant. He was promoted to women’s head coach in 1987 and became director of the program in 2002, Holy Cross said in the statement Friday.

He was voted the 1999 and 2002 New England Women’s Coach of the Year, and he is on the board of directors for the Quinsigamond Rowing Association. He led the team to win six conference titles, according to Holy Cross.

The women’s rowing season is set to begin April 4 with Holy Cross interim head coach Jim Barr leading the team, a title he assumed about two weeks after the crash, the school said. A search will start for the next women’s head coach at the end of the 2020 season.

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