MANATEE -- The University of South Florida community was mourning one of its own Thursday after news spread across campus about a crash on Interstate 75 involving a high-profile student.
Recent USF Sarasota-Manatee graduate James Dylan Proctor was the victim in a fatal traffic accident Wednes
day morning south of Tampa. A collision with a semitrailer truck sent Proctor's car off I-75 into the Alafia River.
Proctor, 42, graduated from USF Sarasota-Manatee in December with a degree in applied science and a concentration in gerontology. He was taking a chemistry class this semester while working as a respiratory therapist at Doctor's Hospital in Sarasota.
"Dylan was an enthusiastic USF supporter through and through," USF Sarasota-Manatee regional Chancellor Arthur Guilford said in a press release. "He could always be found wearing university gear, and not only gave his all as coxswain for the USFSM rowing club, but also lent his talents as the club's unofficial cook and musician. The perpetual smile on his face warmed the hearts of all who met him, whether faculty, staff or fellow students."
Proctor rowed for three years and was the senior team member. Rowing coach Jason Moskowitz said he counted Proctor as a team member and a friend.
"I'm still in shock," Moskowitz said. "A lot of members on the team are 17 or 18 and into their 20s. We used to joke around about that, but the truth is he had more energy than all of them combined. Dylan was a source of inspiration for everyone on the team, and he will not be replaceable."
Moskowitz said Proctor attended every regatta possible, and last spring helped the team make it into the grand finals of the state collegiate championship. Proctor also rowed in the Head of the Hooch Regatta in Chattanooga, Tenn.
'He loved to entertain'
Proctor minored in restaurant and hospitality management and enjoyed entertaining and cooking for his teammates.
"He loved to entertain. He hosted the end-of-year celebration for the team, and he brought a portable grill to events and made sure team members were fed right," Moskowitz said. "His personality was so unique. Dylan really appreciated every moment of life."
Ruth Lando, communications and marketing director at USF Sarasota-Manatee, said it is a hard time for students and faculty.
The university is encouraging anyone who wants to speak with a counselor to use the services at the school Counseling and Wellness Center.
While Sarasota and Manatee students were dealing with Proctor's death, the USF Tampa campus held a memorial and candlelight vigil Thursday afternoon for students Jobin Kuriakose, Ankeet Patel, Imtiyaz "Jim" Ilias and Dammie Yesudhas who were killed in a wrong-way collision over the weekend.
Guilford said USF Sarasota-Manatee is making arrangements for a campuswide memorial service for Proctor. The date will be announced on the university's website.
"We mourn the loss of a terrific person who brightened our lives and will always be remembered," Guilford said. "I send my deepest personal condolences to Dylan's extended family, friends and loved ones."
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.