Tributes have been paid to a millionaire businessman after his death in a yacht accident in Italy, including by “heartbroken” TV star friend Richard Hammond.
Dean Kronsbein, the founder of the Ultrafilter Medical mask company in Ross-on-Wye, was on board the 70ft yacht Amore with his wife and daughter when their boat crashed into rocks off the Sardinian coast on Sunday.
Mr Kronsbein, 61, was reportedly pulled from the water at Il Nibani, near Porto Cervo, but pronounced dead at the scene, while his wife Sabine, 59, and daughter, Sophia, 27, were seriously injured.
The businessman, who shared a passion for cars with the Grand Tour and former Top Gear star, pledged to give away hundreds of thousands of medical-standard masks at the height of the Covid crisis, including in his home town.
Mr Hammond, who attended a Bentley Drivers Club party at Mr Kronsbein’s Cubberley House home in Walford just last month alongside Prince Michael of Kent, told MailOnline: “I’m genuinely shocked at this heartbreaking news.
“He really was a larger-than-life character, and I know people say that a lot, but he really was, and the world needs more people like him.
“He was a kind-hearted, jovial person who wished for others to have a good time when they were around him. He was also a shrewd businessman. Who for goodness sake opens factories in Ross-on-Wye?
“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,” added Mr Hammond, who said they shared “a love of cars”.
“I’m just heartbroken for his family, they are tremendous people and I just wish Sabine and Sophia a speedy recovery.”
A family spokesperson said he was a “much-loved and respected family man, friend and business colleague”.
In a statement, they added: “It is with great sadness we can confirm that Dean Kronsbein has been killed in a boating accident.
“It is a tremendous shock and he will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege to know him.”
Ross-on-Wye town mayor Cllr Ed O’Driscoll posted: “I was deeply shocked to learn of the sudden death of local businessman Dean Kronsbein in a yachting accident off the coast of Sardinia.
“I would like to offer my deepest condolences to his family as they come to terms with this terrible news.”
A Bentley Drivers Club spokesperson posted on Tuesday: “The Bentley Drivers Club is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dean Kronsbein in a boating accident. Our thoughts are with Dean’s family at this difficult time.”
One owner added: “Absolutely shocked and devastated. The world has lost one of its true characters.
“Flamboyant, eccentric, generous and kind. A friend to me and a friend to Bentley, I send love to his family, he will be missed by many I’m sure.”
Port of Olbia Coastguard commander Francesco Colarullo told MailOnline: “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.” It was reported that the captain of the yacht had changed course to avoid another boat at the time of the accident.
A spokesperson for the 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.” It is understood that his son Dustin has flown out to Italy to support his mother and sister.
Mr Kronsbein, who had German and British dual nationality, moved to the area some five years ago, and lived at the former home of internationally-renowned singer and musician Roger Whittaker.
He founded Ultrafilter at Ross-on-Wye’s Alton business park last year, with Grand Tour and former Top Gear star Mr Hammond, who lives in nearby Weston-under-Penyard, attending the September launch.
Mr Kronsbein pledged to give away thousands of masks to those who needed them as part of his Great British Mask Giveaway campaign, including Ross-on-Wye and Grimsby where he grew up.
Staff at the business, which was shut this week, were devastated at the news of his passing.