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Jan 29, 2018 1:25 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Water Mill Residents, Father And Son, Killed In Accident While On Safari In Namibia

From left, Sissi, Edgar and Vincent Bohlen. Edgar and Vincent were killed in a car accident while they were on safari in Namibia on January 25.
Jan 30, 2018 12:01 PM

Sissi Bohlen remembers a time, nearly 20 years ago, when her son, Vincent, who was around 6 years old at the time, climbed into her bed with something very important to tell her. “I’m not your mäuschen,” he said, referring to his mother’s pet name for him, German for “little mouse.” “My name is Vincent.”

Ms. Bohlen, a Water Mill resident and a native of Austria, spoke about the natural desire of children at that age to assert their maturity and independence, and expressed gratitude for the way their relationship developed over the years.

As Vincent grew from a teen, to a college graduate to a young man, his bond with his mother became stronger. They went to concerts together, loved eating curry and finding interesting food in New York City. They talked about books. They both loved to dance.

“When a child grows up, there’s a stage where you lose them,” she said. “But then they come back.”

It was a bittersweet memory for Ms. Bohlen, who spoke over the weekend from a hospital in Namibia, Africa, recovering from injuries suffered in a crash while on a safari vacation that killed both Vincent, who was 25, and her husband, Edgar, 65.

The crash occurred on January 17, when a zebra ran across the road while she, Edgar and Vincent were riding in a Land Rover with a driver in the northern part of Namibia, near the border with Angola. A zebra jumped in front of the car and after impact, the car veered off the road and flipped. The car was closed, none of the occupants were thrown out.

Ms. Bohlen, who was seated in the third row, survived. Her husband and son, seated in the middle row, behind the driver, died of their injuries. The driver survived the crash.

Vincent was not far from his 26th birthday, on March 14, and was the only child of Mr. and Ms. Bohlen.

According to Ms. Bohlen, there were no charges filed against the driver, who was not speeding at the time of the accident, and who had been their driver for several days during the trip.

Ms. Bohlen spent several days in the intensive care unit after the accident, with injuries to her knee, along with broken ribs and a punctured lung. She was well enough on Monday to fly to see family in Austria, where she will stay until she is ready to return home to Water Mill.

Mr. and Ms. Bohlen made their way to New York from Europe more than 20 years ago, meeting at a party in New York City in 1991. The pair were engaged a few months later, and married on January 17, 1992.

They settled originally in Bridgehampton but have lived in Water Mill for the last 21 years. The safari trip was, in fact, to mark the couple’s 25th anniversary, which they celebrated last year. The fatal accident occurred on their 26th wedding anniversary.

Vincent was born in Southampton Hospital and attended Montessori School and the Hampton Day School before going away to boardingschool for several years. He ultimately returned and graduated from Southampton High School in 2010.

From there, he went to New York University, graduating half a year early, with honors, from the Stern School of Business in 2014. He indulged his love of travel for several months after that, backpacking in South America and Southeast Asia, before taking a job as a financial analyst in Washington, D.C.

He returned to New York City in 2017 to take what had been his current job as a senior associate at Edge Principal, a real estate investment company.

The elder Mr. Bohlen emigrated to the United States from Germany in the 1980s and became business partners with German-born Christian Wölffer in real estate syndication. They remained close friends and associates until Mr. Wolffer’s death in a swimming accident in Brazil in 2009 at the age of 70.

Mr. Bohlen and his family were part of a tight-knit group of European emigrees, mostly German, who lived in the area, either full time or during the summer months.

Bettina Burda, who met Mr. Bohlen in the late 1980s, said he was a successful businessman with many passions and pursuits. “He was into sailing, golf, tennis,” she said. “He loved cigars, and he loved, loved, loved his friends.”

Michaela Keszler, another family friend, said that the seat next to Mr. Bohlen at any party was an honor to have. “If there was a speech or a joke, he was the one making it,” she said.

Both Ms. Burda and Ms. Keszler have children who were friends with Vincent, and they all grew up together enjoying the Hamptons, particularly during the summer months. They spoke highly of Vincent as someone who had many talents, a rich social life, a thirst for knowledge and an almost insatiable desire to see the world.

“He was intelligent, charming and funny,” Ms. Keszler said.

It was a trait he shared with his father, according to both friends, as well as Ms. Bohlen, who described her husband in similar terms.

“He had a personality that people just gravitated to,” Ms. Bohlen said. “He was always the fun of the dinner party, he always enjoyed life amazingly. Which I did also, but in a different way. He was often in the limelight.”

Ms. Bohlen recalled how her husband loved to play tennis at the Meadow Club in Southampton Village, particularly in the evenings, “when the sun was just right.” She added he also loved playing golf at Montauk Downs. He often played with his son, when he would visit on weekends from the city—an illustration of what friends say was a tight bond between father and son.
“They were such good friends,” said Paulina Keszler, the daughter of Michaela Keszler, who has known Vincent and his family for her entire life. “They were so similar and loved spending time together.”

She added that Vincent always had an outsized presence within their circle of friends.

“We’ve been talking about how inviting he always was,” she said. “He was the kind of person you looked up to, even if you were the same age as him. He was never arrogant or selfish—he was always giving. He was like that when we were kids, and as a teen in his awkward years. It’s just something that was always present in him.”

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Such heartbreaking news. My sympathies go out to Mrs. Bohlen.
By marybmary (47), east hampton on Jan 29, 18 3:45 PM
Horrible news. Can't image getting through a tragedy like this. My heart goes out to Ms. Bohlen.
By disappointed (90), wainscott on Jan 29, 18 4:46 PM
So very sorry. I was Vincent's school bus driver many many years ago. What a nice kid he was. I remember Mrs. Bohlen very fondly also. Again so very sorry
By classytf3 (2), SOUTHAMPTON on Jan 29, 18 5:44 PM
A lovely woman. An unthinkable tragedy. I cannot even begin to imagine the depth of her grief. So veryvery sorry.
By East End 2 (130), Southampton on Jan 29, 18 6:56 PM
My condolences Mrs.Bohlen. I am so very sorry for your loss.
By crusader (380), East Quogue on Jan 30, 18 10:45 AM
Very sad to hear! Great people!
By LovinLife (55), East Quogue on Jan 31, 18 12:58 PM
Darling Sissi,
Countless many are grieving the loss of our beloved Vincent and Edgar.
Vincent's beauty, warmth, charm, kindness and magnificent character touched all of those privileged to know him as did Edgar's. Our hearts are broken and you remain always in our thoughts and prayers. Love, Marianita, Henri and Palmer
By Marianne Lafiteau (1), Southampton on Jan 31, 18 8:41 PM
What exactly does that mean, "on safari"? Were they big game hunters?
By 2329702 (13), East Quogue on Feb 2, 18 4:11 PM
It means to observe or hunt lets hope it was the latter. Horrible tragedy my condolences.
By lursagirl (172), southampton on Feb 5, 18 9:44 AM
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