Metro-East News

Belleville East mourns recent graduate who died in car crash

Nicholas Kraus
Nicholas Kraus Provided photo

The Belleville East community is mourning the loss of recent graduate Nicholas Kraus of Swansea, who died this week from injuries suffered in a car crash on Tuesday.

Social studies teacher Keith Padgett described Nick as a “really quiet young man” who was “very polite.

“This is just a tragedy in every sense of the word. He is from a great family and had a great future,” Padgett said. “This is one of the events you can’t explain and wish you didn’t have to try.”

Padgett had Nick in his U.S. History class during his junior year. “In my class, he loved the wars — World War II and Vietnam,” Padgett said. “He was fun to talk to after class.” They would have conversations about history.

During Nick’s senior year, he volunteered at the school to deliver passes for the counseling department around the school. Padgett said he would see Nick regularly in the hallway or when he visited his class.

Nick graduated in May from Belleville East. Padgett said he wasn’t sure what Nick had planned after high school, but he said Nick had expressed interest in joining the military.

According to his obituary, Nick was to start college next week and had a goal to become a Navy Seal. “He excelled in playing his guitars, enjoyed Brazilian jujitsu and judo, working out at the ‘Y’ and swimming,” his obituary stated. “He also took pleasure in reading (including his Bible) and sketching.”

Nick read the book “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History” by Chris Kyle outside of class, and he and Padgett talked about the book and the movie when it came out.

Counselors are available at Belleville East to help students and staff, according to Padgett. However, he said the counselors are “distraught themselves” since Nick worked closely with them as a student volunteer.

“They will be there for all the other students and staff who need assistance at the school,” Padgett said.

Nick is survived by his parents, Guy and Sheri Kraus, and younger sister Olivia, who is a freshman at Belleville East.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Kurrus Funeral Home in Belleville. A visitation will be held from 4-8 p.m. Monday at the funeral home. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Kurrus Funeral Home Chapel. A private burial will be held.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at or 618-239-2562. Follow her on Twitter: @BND_JForsythe.