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Vero Beach rowing community, first responders gather to remember Holy Cross athlete killed in car crash

Grace Rett passed away January 15, 2020.
Rower Grace R.JPG
Posted at 9:48 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-16 00:04:13-05

VERO BEACH, Fla. — The Vero Beach rowing community gathered Friday to remember the life of Grace Rett.

On January 25, 2020, Rett and 10 other members of the Holy Cross rowing team from Massachusetts were hit by a pickup truck while training in Vero Beach over winter break.

Rett, 20, was killed.

"She was the heart of their team and they were just so devastated," said Brian Colgan, Director of Rowing, Vero Beach Rowing Club.

To honor her life, members of the community and first responders threw flowers into the Indian River Lagoon and towards the Amazing Grace Rett, a boat named in her memory.

RELATED: Holy Cross women's rowing team member killed in Vero crash

"Even though Holy Cross is not here, it really affected our whole area," said Debbie Elliot, mother of Vero Beach Rowing co-captain. "This is a day where we want to honor Grace because she still means something here to the community."


"A day we'll certainly remember here at the Vero Beach Police Department," said David Curry, Chief of Police. "Being the one-year anniversary, we're here to remember certainly Grace Rett, keeping her family in our continued thoughts and prayers."

Prior to her death, Rett broke a world record rowing for 62 hours straight on an indoor rowing machine.

RELATED: Vero Beach police close investigation into crash that killed Holy Cross rower Grace Rett

"She had a work ethic second to none," said Colgan.

The day before she died, Rett celebrated her 20th birthday.

Colgan said her inspirational spirit will live on for years to come in Vero Beach.

"That's the kind of person we want to remember here because those are the kind of ideals that we strive to impart to the local kids that we coach here," said Colgan.

In its investigation, Vero Beach Police determined that the driver of the van carrying the rowing team was at fault.

Officers said Patrick Diggins, former Director of Rowing, Holy Cross, failed to yield to oncoming traffic coming from the Merril P. Barber Bridge.

Diggins told police he thought he had a green arrow to turn onto Indian River Boulevard.