POINT PLEASANT BEACH — A fatal boating accident led to the cancellation of the highly anticipated Offshore Grand Prix boat race along the Jersey shore.

David Raabe. 38 of Forked River was killed when their boat crossed in front of the  26' "Joker" race boat called the "Smith Brothers" on the first lap of a race and went airborne, landing on top of Raabe's boat, the Repeat Offender, according to Ocean County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Al Della Fave.

Raabe, who was operating the throttle, and driver James Bryne were hit by the hull of the Smith Brotehrs and went into the water. Raabe was taken to Ocean Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to Della Fave, and Bryne was  taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center where he was in critical condition on Sunday night.

Della Fave said the operators of the Smith Brothers, brothers Pete Smith and Richard Smith, gave a blood sample but refused medical attention.Their boat sank and has not yet been recovered.

All four men involved in the crash were wearing helmets, according to Della Fave.

Point Pleasant Mayor Stephen Reid called the incident just off Bay Head "very tragic."

According to his Facebook profile, Raabe was originally from East Brunswick and is the owner of the Repeat Offender.

Crowds on the northern inlet where boats come through for the race
Crowds on the northern inlet where boats come through for the race (Kristine Brown)

Witness Kristine Brown told New Jersey 101.5 it was surreal  as word spread quickly through the crowd of the crash, and the mood turned somber among spectators.

Brown said she saw one boat being towed back to shore.

Townsquare Media's Ray Taylor said a NJ State Police helicopter landed at nearby Point Pleasant Beach High School.

The race, which started at noon, is sponsored by the New Jersey Powerboat Racing Association, runs a small 4 mile "oval" that comes as close as 150 feet to the beach.

The tradition of the boat race goes back over 40 years, according to the Association's website and has been known by a number of names including the Hennessey Offshore Grand Prix, the Benihana Offshore Grand Prix and the War at the Shore.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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