The mangled wreck of the van driven by George Kotis.
The mangled wreck of the van driven by George Kotis. Nat Bromhead

Coast mourns death of George

WHEN Fraser Coast mayor Mick Kruger woke up yesterday he hoped the news his friend of 45 years had been killed was just a dream.

But slowly the sad reality that George Kotis was gone started to sink in.

The 67-year-old was killed when his car smashed into a cattle truck on the Bruce Highway near Maryborough on Saturday afternoon.

Just the night before Mr Kruger had spoken with George at the launch of his new restaurant at Hervey Bay's WetSide water park.

“He looked at the people around him and at me and said: ‘Mick, I have never been happier,'” Mr Kruger said.

“I think he was really on the cusp of doing exactly what it was that he had been working towards his whole life.”

Mr Kruger first met George when he was given his first job as a waiter at Maryborough's Tattersalls Hotel.

During his time in Maryborough George also took over the Royal Hotel where he employed other well-known identities – Maryborough MP Chris Foley and Fraser Coast councillor Gerard O'Connell.

Mr Kruger applauded George's dedication to the Fraser Coast's hospitality industry and his passion for the community.

“He was a fine gentleman and businessman,” Mr Kruger said.

“It just doesn't feel real.”

Yesterday George's son Thom Kotis thanked the community for its support on behalf of his family.

“He will be greatly missed by many,” Mr Kotis said.

“His remaining family appreciate the condolences of all those who have contacted us.”

There were five other vehicles involved in the crash that claimed the life of the popular restaurateur.

Three passengers including the male cattle truck driver and two other females were taken to hospital where they were treated for minor injuries and shock.

They have all been released.

All the cattle were unloaded from the back of the burning truck and rounded up into a nearby paddock by local farmers.

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