Bradenton, Sarasota mourn loss of teacher, avid skateboarder

Herald Staff WritersFebruary 11, 2013 

MANATEE -- The ripples which emanated out of Sarasota following the death of 35-year-old skateboarder Daniel Giguere reached Bradenton's Riverfront Skatepark Sunday.

"I heard about him," said Jordan Lee, a Bradenton skater who was enjoying one of those clear, cool, days that avid skateboarders like Giguere prize.

"It was obvious he cared about kids." Lee added.

Said skater Gavin Loge of Bradenton: "It's a big loss for the skating community."

The death of Giguere, who lived in a three-bedroom home in the 1400 block of 89th Street Northwest in Bradenton with his wife, Alexandra and young boys, Daniel 7, Andre, 2, and Jean-Paul, 1, left many in Bradenton and Sarasota in shock.

The popular teacher died in a two-vehicle crash on his way to Sarasota School of Arts and Science around 7:30 a.m, Friday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Giguere, 35, taught physical education, started a skateboard team at the school and helped manage Payne Skate Park in Sarasota.

The front door at the Gigueres' house was constantly knocked upon Sunday. People carried in toys, food and water.

"I'm on a cloud of love," Alexandra Giguere, his widow, said Sunday.

Giguere had special relationships with students. He made time to simply shoot baskets with some, said his fellow coach at the school, Greg Mulhollen.

"There was a lot he did that wasn't in the job description," Mulhollen said. "Kids loved him because he understood where they came from and he put himself in their shoes."

When Giguere came home from school he would always jump in the shower, put on fresh clothes and run crazily through the house, chased by his three boys, whose job was to climb on top of him on the bed and create a mass of four wiggling, laughter-filled bodies, his wife said.

"Dan was the best and most dedicated father I ever saw," Alexandra Giguere said of her husband.

"He was like a third son to me," said Alexandra's mother, Priscilla Boozer.

Mike Walling, manager of the Sarasota skate park, has endearing memories of Giguere.

"He was great with them, encouraging and having fun with them," Walling said.

Walling met Giguere nine years ago when his son was a student athlete under Giguere's guidance. Soon after, they helped start Sk8School, a nonprofit with the intent to make skateboarding a league sport at local schools.

"Fun -- that's what skateboarding is all about. It doesn't have rules like other sports," Walling said. "It's more of an art form you just do what you feel."

Then two years ago, the organization took over running the skate park that had previously been taken care of by the city.

Now, those children and adults who looked up to Giguere are mourning his loss.

"I didn't believe it at first," Walling said. "At first it was a rumor the kids were saying that they saw on Facebook that something happened to Coach Dan. I told them just because it was on Facebook doesn't make it real."

But it was true.

About 7:33 a.m., Giguere lost control of his 2004 Nissan 350Z while driving south on U.S. 41 approaching Seagate Drive, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Giguere traveled into the northbound lanes and was struck by an oncoming truck.

The truck's driver, a 22-year-old Sarasota man was taken to Blake Medical Center and was listed in serious condition. Giguere was pronounced dead at the scene, a report states.

"One of the moms came in and was sobbing. She said she'd gotten an email from the school," Walling said. "He's got a wife and three very small kids. I just keep thinking about them."

The skate park was filled Friday night with emotional children.

"It was terrible," Walling said.

On Saturday, the park was crowded.

"Normally it's mayhem and noisy," Walling said. "But everybody is subdued -- that's the only word I can think of."

Walling said many people are calling him and the park's office to share their condolences. An "RIP Coach Dan" Facebook page was created Saturday where those who knew the man are posting photographs and sharing stories.

The skate park is planning to organize an event in honor of Giguere within the next two weeks, Walling said.

Those who would like to donate to a fund for Giguere's children to go to college may send checks to: The Giguere Boys College Fund, c/o Principal Tara Tahmosh, Sarasota School of Arts and Science, 645 Central Ave., Sarasota, 34236.

Friends and family plan to remember Daniel Giguere in a celebration of life on Saturday. The time and place have not yet been deterimined.

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