Princess Caroline's Husband Dies In Speedboat CrashJEAN-PAUL FRONZES , Associated Press
Oct. 3, 1990 4:01 PM ET
MONTE CARLO, MONACO MONTE CARLO, Monaco (AP) _ Tragedy revisited Monaco's royal family Wednesday when Stefano Casiraghi, husband of Princess Caroline, died in a speedboat accident while defending his world title.
Caroline, a widow at 33, donned black mourning clothes and rushed home from Paris, where she was visiting. Eight years and three weeks earlier, her mother, Princess Grace, died after a car crash.
Witnesses said Casiraghi, 30, and co-pilot Patrice Innocenti drove their catamaran, the Pinot di Pinot, straight into a wave at about 93 mph during a morning heat of the World Offshore Championships being held near Monaco.
The 42-foot boat flipped over, ejecting Innocenti. Witnesses said Casiraghi remained strapped to his seat and bore the full impact of the vessel slamming into the water. The two-engine, five-ton boat then sank, witnesses said.
Gianfranco Rossi, head of the race organizing committee, told a news conference Casiraghi was killed instantly. He said other competitors, as well as divers and a doctor, rushed to the stricken boat and found Casiraghi trapped in the cockpit, already dead.
Casiraghi was a sophisticated international financier when, at 23, he married Caroline on Dec. 29, 1983.
At his death, he was chairman of Cogefar France, the French subsidiary of an Italian construction group owned by Fiat. He also held a 52 percent interest in Engeco, which owns about 3,000 apartments in Monaco and is building a $160 million apartment complex.
And he was the father of three children - two sons and a daughter.
Casiraghi and Innocenti had been favored to win the three-stage race, featuring sleek boats capable of speeds up to 125 mph.
The accident came 30 minutes after the second stage opened Wednesday. Organizers canceled the day's events but said they would resume Thursday or Friday.
Casiraghi had a passion for offshore racing. A competitor since 1984, he had won 12 of 80 races, including last year's world championship held off Atlantic City, N.J.
Weather conditions off Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, between Monaco and Nice, were described as normal.
''He surely didn't have time to look out and, at that speed, stuck under the boat, must have been killed by the blow,'' said another racer, Michel Karsten.
Emergency crews quickly pulled both men out of the water. Innocenti was rushed to Princess Grace Hospital and Casiraghi reportedly was taken to the adjoining morgue.
The palace issued a two-sentence communique confirming the death about four hours after the accident.
The hospital said Innocenti, the boat's driver, was being treated for his injuries. It did not elaborate.
Caroline, the oldest child of Prince Rainier III and the former Hollywood star Grace Kelly, divorced French playboy Philippe Junot in 1980. She married Casiraghi on Dec. 29, 1983 in a civil ceremony under a portrait of her late mother.
They had three children - Andrea, 6; Charlotte, 4; and Pierre, 3.
Their marriage brought some joy back to a family that was devastated by the death of Princess Grace in September 1982.
The automobile accident injured Caroline's younger sister, Princess Stephanie, and left Prince Rainier emotionally thunderstruck.
The relatively low-profile lifestyle Caroline had enjoyed since marrying Casiraghi contrasted vividly with the weekly splash she made in the tabloids during the 1970s.
The couple were reported to have a close relationship and divided their time between Monaco, the tiny minicipality ruled by Caroline's family since the 13th century, and Casiraghi's home outside Milan.
Their marriage followed Caroline's unhappy two-year union with Junot, who was 17 years her senior. He was photographed many times during their marriage in the company of other women.
A Roman Catholic, Caroline sought to have her first marriage annulled so she could wed Casiraghi in a religious ceremony and have their children recognized by the church. She was never granted the annulment.
Casiraghi was born Sept. 8, 1960, the son of Giancarlo Casiraghi, a self- made millionaire industrialist.
He attended private Catholic schools, including the Gaillo College in Como. He studied economics at the University of Bocconi - considered Italy's most prestigious business school - but never graduated.
Instead, he launched his first business, REDIM, a real estate concern. That success was followed by export companies that sold sweaters and shoes in the United States.
Casiraghi also relished the pleasures of the jet set. He vacationed in chic resorts like Saint-Moritz in the Alps and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the Riviera, where his family owned homes.
He met Caroline at Jimmy's, a Monaco nightclub, and soon broke off his engagement to Pinuccia Macheda. He impressed the Grimaldi family with his maturity and quickly won their approval.
Corriere Della Sera, one of Italy's leading dailies, once called him ''one of the true young lions of the jet set.''
Casiraghi had two older brothers, Marco and Danielle, and a younger sister, Rosalba.