A ‘heartbroken’ Richard Hammond has paid tribute to his millionaire friend who was killed when his yacht smashed into rocks off Sardinia on Sunday.
Dean Kronsbein, 61, was on the deck of his 70ft yacht Amore with his wife and daughter when the captain was forced to take evasive action to avoid another boat.
The vessel ploughed into a stretch of rocks and lost its bow in the force of the impact which happened at Il Nibani, just off the coast of Porto Cervo.
It is believed Mr Kronsbein was thrown into the water by the collision, before being pulled out by a passing Maltese flagged yacht. Despite attempts to save him, was declared dead onboard.
His wife Sabine, 59, and daughter Sophia, 27, were also seriously injured and taken to a hospital at Olbia before being transferred to a more specialist unit at Sassari, some 60 miles away. Mr Kronsbein’s family said he would be ‘deeply missed by all who had the privilege to know him.’
Today TV star Richard Hammond – who was a close friend of Mr Kronsbein – also paid poignant tribute to him. He told MailOnline: ‘I’m genuinely shocked at this heartbreaking news.
A ‘heartbroken’ Richard Hammond (left) has paid tribute to his millionaire friend Dean Kronsbein (right) who was killed when his yacht smashed into rocks off Sardinia on Sunday
Pictured: The 70ft Amore is seen on-land in Porto Cervo, Sardinia after being seized by the local authorities while an investigation into the crash is carried out
‘He really was a larger than life character and I know people often say that but he really was and the world needs more people like him.
‘He was big hearted, fun character who wanted people to enjoy themselves when they were with him and he was also an astute businessman. He opened factories in Ross-on-Wye, who does that for goodness sake!?’
Mr Kronsbein was the owner of a firm called Ultrafilter Medical based in Ross-on-Wye which made highly specialised medical equipment and distributed millions of masks during lockdown.
His family also owns £5 million Cubberley House – a beautiful country home close to Ross on Wye – and also a four bedroom villa on the outskirts of Porto Cervo.
Dean Kronsbein, 61, was on the deck of his 70ft yacht Amore with his wife and daughter on Sunday when it ploughed into some rocks, throwing him into the ocean. He was pulled from the ocean, but could not be saved
‘I just can’t believe I won’t see him again in his colourful waistcoat and looking at his pocket watch, the last time I saw him was a couple of weeks ago at the party he hosted at Cubberley House,’ Mr Hammond, known for Top Gear, The Grand Tour and Brainiac, told MailOnline.
The party was hosted in the 100 acre grounds of his seven bedroom country home for the Bentley Drivers Club, and was also attended by Prince Michael of Kent. Mr Kronsbein owned a 1953 R Type continental Bentley and he and wife were committed fund raisers for charity.
‘I’m just heartbroken for his family, they are tremendous people and I just wish Sabine and Sophia a speedy recovery. I’ve spoken to some people at the factory which is shut because of what’s happened and they are all devastated as well.
‘He brought jobs and work to the area and locals were genuinely delighted for what he did for them and the town. I really shall miss him tremendously and the life of the party has left.
‘Dean was on fine form at the party last month and gave a great speech as always and was the life and soul of the event. This is just such really, really sad news.
‘We were drawn together by a love of cars and we would often meet up to talk about them and I would come along to factory openings.’
Mr Hammond also revealed how he had introduced Mr Kronsbein to BBC motoring journalist Zog Ziegler, and added: ‘They love talking about cars, machinery and business and when I called him earlier to tell him what had happened he was as shocked as I was.
‘He called me back a few minutes later to say he had just processed it all and couldn’t believe it. That’s the sort of person was he was a really big guy with a heart to match. I’m absolutely devastated, he was much loved and will be sadly missed.
In a statement to MailOnline, Mr Kronsbein’s family confirmed his tragic death.
‘It is with great sadness that we can confirm that Dean Kronsbein has been killed in a boating accident,’ the statement said.
‘A much-loved and respected family man, friend and business colleague, it is a tremendous shock and he will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege to know him. We politely request that the family are allowed time and space to come to terms with their loss.’
The vessel (pictured after the crash surrounded by rescue vessels) ploughed into a stretch of rocks and lost its bow in the force of the impact which happened at Il Nibani, just off the coast of Porto Cervo on the island of Sardinia
Pictured: The damage to the yacht’s bow is seen in pictures taken after it was towed ashore
Pictured: Dean Kronsbein’s 70ft yacht Amore is seen impounded by local authorities
Just last month Mr Kronsbein featured in an article in the Financial Times on how foreign holidaymakers were returning to the millionaire playground around Porto Cervo.
Describing how he had bought his new home he said: ‘We’ve rented here every summer and I thought it a good time to buy. The houses are built to blend into the hillsides and don’t stick out and spoil the landscape.’
MailOnline also revealed today the captain of the Amore, Mario Lallone, has also been placed under investigation by local authorities and will be questioned later today over the crash.
Several other witnesses including four friends of Mr Kronsbein who were on the yacht will also be questioned as will rescuers on other boats that came to help.
Family lawyer Egidio Caredda told MailOnline: ‘As you can imagine this has been a terrible shock for the family.
‘I was contacted by Mr Kronsbein’s son to help them with the situation, and I am giving them all the assistance I can.
‘The local authorities are still investigating the exact circumstances and we will also be speaking to witnesses to establish what happened.
‘Mr Kronsbein’s son Dustin flew out from England when he heard the news and he has been with his mother and sister. They are both very seriously hurt and are receiving significant medical treatment in hospital.’
Pictured: Dead yachtsman Dean Kronsbien (left) with MP Philip Dunne (right). Mr Kronsbein was the owner of a firm called Ultrafilter Medical based in Ross-on-Wye which made highly specialised medical equipment and distributed millions of masks during lockdown
Mr Kronsbien’s owns £5 million Cubberley House a beautiful country home close to Ross on Wye and also a four bedroom villa on the outskirts of Porto Cervo (pictured)
The yacht was towed off rocks by coastguard vessels and impounded while an investigation is carried out. Coast guards yesterday also sealed off the area where the crash happened until the investigation is completed.
It was reported that an autopsy was expected to be performed on Monday.
One source said: ‘The theory is the boat that ran aground was trying frantically to steer out of the way of another which didn’t have right of way and she ended up on the rocks.’
One bystander on social media said: ‘Five ambulances around a boat last night at Porto Cervo which was towed in. Doesn’t look good.’
The MY Amore is registered in the Italian port of Monfalcone near Trieste. However, it is unclear whether the dead Briton had chartered the vessel or owned it.
A picture of the rocks struck by the Amore was released by coastguards and white paint from her hull was clearly visible on the surface of the stones.
This terrifying image taken after the crash laid bare the full extent of the damage – with the bow of the Amore completely torn off with the force of the impact on the rocks
Paint was also left imprinted on the rocks that the vessel hit, killing one and injuring six – two of them with serious wounds. Mr Kronsbien’s wife Sabine, 59, and daughter Sophia, 27, were also seriously injured and taken to a hospital at Olbia before being transferred to a more specialist unit at Sassari 60 miles away
Vessels are showed moored in Porto Cervo late on Sunday night after the stricken craft was towed back to shore, where it was met by emergency services
The crash happened near a set of islands called Il Nibani, which are around two miles off the coast from Porto Cervo, Sardinia
Yesterday, coastguard commander Francesco Colarullo told Mail Online: ‘The damaged boat was towed back to Porto Cervo and has now been seized by the local prosecutor while the investigation into what happened exactly continues.
‘It’s possible speed may have been an issue and we know that other vessels were in the area at the time and the accident may have happened while evasive action was taking place.
‘Every effort was made to save the life of the British man but there was nothing that could be done and he was unconscious when he was recovered.
‘The alarm was raised by the Amore with a mayday and they reported they were taking on water after striking rocks and a rescue operation was immediately launched.
‘Two coastguard vessels were involved as well as several other pleasure boats in the area at the time.’
A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office said: ‘We are providing support following a maritime accident in Sardinia, including to the family of a dual national who has died. We are in contact with the local authorities.’