Running community mourns hit-and-run death of longtime Florida track and cross-country coach

Photo: Chris Sumner

Running community mourns hit-and-run death of longtime Florida track and cross-country coach

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Running community mourns hit-and-run death of longtime Florida track and cross-country coach

Paul Hoover was doing the things he loved – running and enjoying the outdoors.

While crossing Springhill Road in southern Leon County at about 8 p.m. Tuesday, Hoover, 66, was struck by a car and killed.

Hoover, a long-time Wakulla High School track and cross-country coach and a retired major with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, was hit at a pedestrian crossing for a junction with the Georgia, Florida & Alabama Trail, just south of Clinton Hudson Sr. Lane.

Hoover was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

The driver of a sedan, described as light colored with damage to the left front and left mirror, fled the scene and is wanted by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Anyone with information about the hit-and-run crash is asked to contact FHP’s lead investigator Cpl. E. Hunt at (850) 410-0264.

Hoover retired from FWC in 2006 after a 33-year professional career during which he was recognized as Wildlife Officer of the Year in 1977.

Wakulla cross country coach Paul Hoover with former runners. (Photo: Wakulla Cross Country)

Following a stint as a volunteer assistant track coach at North Florida Christian, Hoover had spent the last 10 years as the War Eagles’ head track coach and cross-country coach and was nearing his 67th birthday on June 9.

Maclay School coach Gary Droze, who has known Hoover for nearly 20 years through Gulf Wind Track Club and high school coaching, noted Hoover’s passion and dedication to all things in his life.

“Paul was one of the good guys – a relentlessly honorable and dedicated servant of the outdoors, a compassionate and extremely knowledgeable coach, and a highly accomplished runner,” Droze said. “Paul was also a constant reminder to me that a coach can inspire greatness without hollering at kids. He will be missed.”

Hoover started his career in 1973 in Dixie County as game manager, then moved into law enforcement the next year. He was promoted to Leon County in 1979 and, while a sergeant and a lieutenant, monitored a four-county area.

Over the course of 22 years running in the Florida Law Enforcement Games, he won the gold medal in the half marathon 20 times and owned every record time across various age groups.

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