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Hillsborough High teacher dies in Indiana kayaking accident

TAMPA — A history teacher in Hills­borough High's International Baccalaureate program who enjoyed the outdoors has died while kayaking on an Indiana river.

Robert "Fred" DiGenova of Lutz, drowned when he tried to maneuver his kayak over a dam Saturday on the Eel River in Wabash County, near Fort Wayne. Searchers found his body Sunday in a logjam on the river.

"It was really bad to find out on Father's Day," said April DiGenova, his stepmother.

DiGenova, 42, had been at Hillsborough High since 1994. He grew up in Indiana and graduated from Ball State University in 1992.

His father, Null DiGenova, said his son had taken the kayak trip with friends for several years.

He was kayaking with four others last weekend. The others decided to carry their kayaks around the dam. DiGenova, who wasn't wearing a life jacket, did not. When the others reached the other side, he was nowhere to be found.

The water near the dam appears to be calm, but there is a strong current downstream, according to Indiana officials.

Back home, DiGenova's students filled his Facebook page with recollections.

"I didn't realize how many lives he'd touched," Null DiGenova said.

On Friday, there will be a memorial service in Indiana. Then DiGenova's wife, Beatriz, will take his ashes back to Florida.

Times staff writer Luis Perez and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Jared Leone can be reached at (813) 226-3435 or jleone@sptimes.com.

Hillsborough High teacher dies in Indiana kayaking accident 06/21/10 [Last modified: Monday, June 21, 2010 11:48pm]
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