Boat racing community mourns death of Rich Krier

Indianola, Iowa, racer was much beloved

Rich Krier

The tight-knit boat racing community has lost one of its own.

Longtime racer Rich Krier of Indianola, Iowa, died Wednesday morning, five days after a boat accident upon completing his last race in the 250 Runabout on Friday in Jacksonville, Illinois. He was 76.

Paul Bosnich Jr. of DePue said he saw Krier’s boat in the air, but no one knows for sure what happened to force Krier’s boat airborne.

“The races were over, and he was heading down the backstretch of the race course. They started hollering, and all I saw was a boat coming up in the air, and the next thing I know, he’s in the water,” Bosnich said. “We don’t know if he caught the wind, a draft, whatever. It’s tough.”

Bosnich said they got Krier to shore and some racers, who are EMTs, jumped in the ambulance with him and rushed him to the hospital in Jacksonville. He was then life-flighted to the trauma center in Springfield, where he later died.

Kriers’ sons, TR and Brad, announced their father’s passing on the US Title Series Facebook page Wednesday morning, saying: “Thank you for the thoughts and prayers during this challenging time. It is with great sorrow to inform you that our beloved father Rich has passed to the next life. We are incredibly grateful he was able to live a full life and enjoy his passion for boat racing until his last days - The sons of X-51.”

TR Krier, who lives and works in Hong Kong, was notified about the accident, Bosnich said, and within three hours he got the last seat on a plane home. The seat number was 51, his dad’s boat number, Bosnich said.

Longtime race announcer Ray Rodda received a call at his home in Indiana from his nephew Nick Witalka from the site telling him about the accident and was devastated.

“It’s crazy,” Rodda said. “His brother, Mike, finished out in front of that heat. Rich got second overall and unfortunately lost his life. But he died with his passion. That’s one thing I take away from this, that he died doing what he loved.”

Krier was well known and well liked in the boat racing community and had won multiple national championships during his career.

He raced at Lake De Pue for five decades and always pitted next to the PA booth under a tree on the shore of Lake DePue famously known as the “Krier Tree.” His brother, Mike, also races.

“Rich was a great man. I never heard him say anything bad about anybody. He was always a top-notch driver. He worked hard,” Bosnich said.

“He just always had a smile. Always had a kind word for people. I will miss him greatly and remember him fondly,” said Rodda, who raced against Krier in the late 1960s in Chicago.

Krier owned a home-building business in Indianola, working with his son, Brian.

DePue has seen its share of racing tragedy with the deaths of two drivers, Gerry Grake, of Florida, and Nick Davis, of Chillicothe.

Drake, 57, was killed during testing July 27, 1994, when he was thrown into the water and struck by his own boat. Davis, 37, was killed July 28, 2006, on the first lap of the first race of the day when he was struck by another boat.

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