Boca Raton, FL, United States (4E Sports) – The grandson of retired Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden died Thursday after the car he was riding plunged into a creek in Polk County.
According to sheriff’s investigators, 23-year-old Taylor Jeffrey “TJ” Bowden and the car’s driver Rafael Fernandes De Aguiar Valim died in the accident.
The car’s third occupant, Robert Lewis Edwards, survived the accident.
TJ was a son of Jeff Bowden, a former FSU assistant coach who works for the football program at the University of Akron, where his brother Terry is head coach.
The 84-year-old Bobby Bowden is a former FSU head coach who guided the Seminoles to success in the 1990s.
Under Bobby, the team won its first national title in 1993 and captured another championship in 1999. FSU also played in title games in 1998 and 2000.
He retired in 2009 after a 33-year coaching stint with the Seminoles. With 377 career victories, Bobby holds the NCAA record for wins by a Football Bowl Subdivision coach.
“I can’t express the grief I feel right now,” Jeff Bowden said in a statement. “Please keep us in your prayers.”
“Our whole family had just celebrated Christmas together in Panama City, as well as celebrated T.J.’s graduation from Florida State just three weeks ago. We will cherish those last memories together with T.J. forever,” Bobby said.
Initial investigation showed that alcohol was a factor in the crash, but authorities are still waiting for the result of the blood-alcohol test on the driver, sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Eleazer said. Deputies are also looking if speed was a factor in the accident.
Based on calls made to friends and relatives shortly before the crash, the men were driving from Indigo’s, a bar with bowling, billiards and an arcade, to a friend’s house when they veered off the roadway, the Sheriff’s Office said.