The director of operations for Auburn University golf was killed in a single-vehicle accident Thursday night in Auburn, according to Lee County Coroner Bill Harris.
Danielle Downey, 33, a former Auburn University and LPGA golfer, was pronounced dead on arrival at the emergency room of East Alabama Medical Center just before 11 p.m., according to Harris.
The accident happened on the 300 block of Lee Road 57 in Auburn around 10 p.m.
Downey was traveling north on Lee Road 57 in her 2011 Hyundai Sonata when she lost control of the vehicle, left the roadway and overturned several times, ejecting her from the car, Harris said.
EAMC EMS and the Lifesaver air ambulance responded to the scene, but according to the coroner, Downey’s injuries were too severe to be airlifted. Aggressive efforts to save her were unsuccessful, Harris said, as she was rushed to the emergency room at EAMC via ambulance in trauma arrest.
Downey was pronounced dead at 10:58 p.m. from a massive head injury and multiple blunt force impact injuries, Harris said.
According to an Alabama State Troopers news release Friday morning, preliminary investigation indicates that weather was not a factor. Downey was not wearing a seat belt, according to the release.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” Auburn head women’s golf coach Kim Evans said in a press release. “Danielle meant so much to me, the girls and this program. Not only did she give much of her life to Auburn as a student-athlete and as a mentor to these young women, but she was so instrumental to this team during some tough times over the past year. Danielle was like a daughter to me.”
Downey played a huge role in the Auburn women’s golf team last season, as she stepped in to fill Evans’ role, while Evans was being treated for ovarian cancer.
Downey led the Tigers through NCAA Regionals, which were held at the AU Club, and the NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga. Auburn finished sixth in the nation, their best finish in eight seasons.
“This is a tragic and devastating loss for Danielle’s family, our student-athletes and staff and the entire Auburn family,” Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs said. “Danielle cared deeply about people and she was loved by all who knew her. She impacted a lot of lives here as a player and a member of our staff. Our hearts go out to Danielle’s mother and father, her sisters and all who knew and loved her. She will be dearly missed."
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Downey was in her second season serving as the director of operations after returning to Auburn to complete her degree. She graduated in May with her degree in health promotion.
Downey played at Auburn from 1999-2003, earning All-American honors three of those seasons, while being an All-SEC performer every year. In 2000, Downey was the SEC Tournament champion, while the Tigers won conference team titles in 2000 and 2003. She also holds the Auburn record for best finish at the NCAA Championship, tying for second in 2002.
Downey went to play on the LPGA and Futures tours, finishing with one victory and seven top-10s on the Futures Tour.
Downey finished her professional career as a caddy on the LPGA Tour for Sarah Kemp and Laura Diaz.
Downey is survived by her parents, Mike Downey and Phyllis Downey, sisters, Erica Setzer, Melissa Sage, and Shawna Tomasso, three nieces and three nephews.
Downey's funeral will be held Thursday in Rochester, N.Y., there will be a visitation the day before.
Auburn University will hold a memorial service for Downey on Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. on the scholarship terrace of Auburn Arena.
UPDATED at 9:30 p.m. with funeral and memorial service information
Mike Szvetitz is the Sports Editor for the Opelika-Auburn News.