Pinellas County

Principal dies, daughter critically injured in Clearwater jet ski crash

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) --- A charter school principal was killed and his 4-year-old daughter seriously injured in a boating accident in Clearwater on Saturday.

The crash happened near 941 Bay Esplanade around 4:45 p.m.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said a jet ski collided with a boat operated by 67-year-old Thomas Carey of Clearwater.  Carey is a well-known attorney in Clearwater who has been an advocate against drunken driving.

The 52-year-old operator of the jet ski, identified Sunday as Dr. Craig Butz of Altamonte Springs, was taken to Morton Plant in critical condition. He later died.  Butz was the executive director of Pepin Academies, which is a charter school for children with learning disabilities.

His 4-year-old daughter was airlifted to Bayfront Health Hospital. On Sunday, the FWC said she remains in critical condition.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Pepin Academies released the following statement regarding Butz' passing:

We are shocked and saddened to hear of the unexpected and tragic loss of Pepin Academies’ Executive Director, Dr. Craig Butz. In my four years working with Dr. Butz, he advanced the mission of Pepin Academies tenfold. His wisdom and intelligence was matched by his passion and exuberance for the staff and students of our schools. He was a leader, a champion, and a friend. The pain of his loss, both professionally and personally, will be felt for an eternity. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his young daughter Teagan who remains in critical condition. We ask that their privacy be respected during this sad and difficult time. Pepin Academies will have bereavement specialists at the school on Monday to help grieving students and staff cope with this tragic loss.”

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