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Former Pasco County football coach identified as Skyway Bridge victim

Published Aug. 26, 2013

A former assistant football coach at Land O'Lakes High School in Pasco County drove his car to the center of the Sunshine Skyway bridge early Monday morning and jumped to his death.

William J. Schmitz, 59, of Land O'Lakes left his 2010 Kia atop the span, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. He leapt from the side of the railing at 4:56 a.m.

His body was found about four hours later, authorities said. Further details were not immediately available.

Schmitz came to Land O'Lakes with a strong football pedigree. He previously served as an assistant at Cincinnati, Vanderbilt and UAB, among others. In 2003, he was chosen over Robert Weiner as the head coach at Jesuit, where he led the Tigers to the 2004 Class 3A region final.

He was the Tampa Bay Times' North Suncoast track coach of the year in 2012 but was not on the football staff this season. Schmitz led the track team to the Class 3A, District 6 championship each of the past two years.

School officials told Land O'Lakes athletes after Schmitz's death Monday morning and let the rest of the students know at 1 p.m. He was also a social studies teacher at the school.