Mr. William J. Schmitz

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A Land O' Lakes High School teacher and coach died in an apparent suicide leap from the Sunshine Skyway bridge early Monday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

William J. Schmitz, who taught history and coached the boys track team at the Pasco County school, was 59.

According to a sheriff's office report, Schmitz drove his 2010 Kia to the Skyway's main span at 4:56 a.m., exited his vehicle and jumped over the side of the railing. The body was recovered about four hours later, the sheriff's office said.

Schmitz, a former college football coach, also was Land O' Lakes' offensive coordinator in 2011 and 2012.

Students were told of his death this morning. The football team canceled practice today.

Schmitz also served as Jesuit High's head football coach in 2004, leading the team to the 2004 Class 3A region final.

Schmitz compiled a 39-65 record as head coach the Coast Guard Academy (1993-96) and Austin Peay (1997-2002). He was also an assistant coach at several colleges, including Cincinnati and Alabama-Birmingham.

He was named the Pasco Tribune's boys track Coach of this Year this spring.

Published in on Aug. 27, 2013
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