Thiel sentenced to jail in 2020 fatal LeClaire boat crash

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 4:11 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - A Pleasant Valley man was sentenced Wednesday to one year in the Scott County Jail with all but 90 days suspended for his role in a boat crash that left two people dead in 2020 in LeClaire.

James William Thiel, 46, was convicted in April of two counts of involuntary manslaughter, an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by two years in prison.

Following a sentencing hearing Wednesday, Thiel was immediately taken into custody. However, he spent less than an hour in jail before posting a $10,000 appeal bond.

He will remain free pending an appeal of the case.

Scott County prosecutors argued at the trial that Thiel was intoxicated and allowed his 15-year-old son to speed-race his Triton boat against a friend’s boat on the way to a barbeque on Aug. 16, 2020.

Thiel’s boat, having been driven recklessly, according to the prosecution, crashed head-on into Dr. Anita Pinc and Craig Verbeke’s Bayliner boat.

Prosecutors argued that by allowing his son to drive the boat in a careless manner, Thiel aided and abetted in the deaths of Pinc and Verbeke.

His attorney, Leon Spies, argued that it was the Bayliner that ran into the Triton, citing witnesses who said they had seen Verbeke driving erratically.

The courtroom heard numerous victim impact statements at Wednesday’s sentencing from family members of Verbecke and Pinc. Thiel responded with an apology.

“First and foremost, my sincere heartfelt sorrow for what happened that day goes out to the Pinc and Verbecke families. I am sincerely, sincerely sorry. I know that the lives of their family members will never be the same without Anita and Craig and not a day goes by that I do not think about how this accident and the loss of Anita and Craig has affected those children, brothers, and sisters, mothers, fathers. I cannot imagine suddenly losing two people that you care for so much. I am sure it is absolutely unbearable, to say the least. I want the families to know that I, my son, and my family would never ever intend to cause harm to anyone let alone the death of Anita and Craig. I want you to know that we are extremely sorry for what happened and not a day will go by that we won’t think about that August night on the river and wish that we had done something different to prevent the horrible tragedy. My heart goes out to your family. I am sorry for the loss of Anita and Craig and always will be. I take full responsibility. I am sorry,” said Thiel.

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