Well-known in the offshore powerboat racing world for his decades of safety and rescue work, Donald DiPetrillo of Broward County, Fla., died today after a protracted battle with the COVID-19 virus. He was 70 years old.
DiPetrillo was the safety and rescue operations coordinator for the Miss GEICO offshore racing team and the chief of Medical Safety and EMT Services for the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida. He and his twin brother, David, were fixtures in the offshore racing safety and rescue community.
Safety and rescue man Donald DiPetrillo was a cherished member of the offshore powerboat racing community.
“It is a very sad day for the Miss GEICO race team with the passing of Donald DiPetrillo from COVID -19,” said Scott Colton, a partner in the Miss GEICO team owners’ group. “Despite the valiant efforts of a wonderful team of doctors, nurses and caregivers, Donald succumbed after nearly 45 days. Donald and David DiPetrillo have provided invaluable safety and support in insuring that the Miss GEICO racers have the latest and best safety measures in all of offshore racing.”
Veteran Super Stock-class offshore racer Ryan Beckley knew DiPetrillo for years. Today’s loss, he said, hit him hard.
“Donald devoted his whole life to making people safer and healthier,” Beckley said. “He was always available to help anyone in any way. Our sport and our world is better because of him.”
As a former Miss GEICO driver and current member of the team’s ownership group, Marc Granet recalled feeling confident having DiPetrillo on the job. His expertise, knowledge and skills—and those of his brother—were unmatched, he said.
“Donald was one of the unsung heroes of our sport, and he got stuff done from securing helicopters and permits to find top safety diver medical personnel,” Granet said. “He even gave us a calming talk before every race. As most hardcore racers will agree, you can’t push the limits unless you know you are ‘covered up top.’ You have to know that if something bad happens someone truly cares about saving your life. Donald truly cared.
“Knowing Donald was around gave you the confidence to let it all hang out on the course,” he continued. “On and off the course, he always had our backs and I am so sad that—other than prayers and worry—I couldn’t help him in his fight against the virus.”
Wrote David DiPetrillo on his Facebook page, “My brother Donald DiPetrillo has fought a long, hard, courageous fight for his earthly life. His fight is over. Donald is at peace with his savior Jesus Christ, who welcomes him into God’s loving arms.”
DiPetrillo was embraced by event organizers around the country, such as Lucy Nicandri of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix in Southwest Florida.
“On behalf of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival we are deeply saddened to hear the tragic passing of Don DiPetrillo,” she said. “I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Don for many years. He was always such a positive inspiration to everyone involved within the racing community. We lost a great man today”