Thiel sentenced to prison in LeClaire’s fatal 2020 boating accident

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – A Pleasant Valley man was sentenced Wednesday to one year in Scott County Jail with all but 90 days suspended for his role in a 2020 boating accident that killed two in LeClaire .

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

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

He will remain free pending an appeal of the case.

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

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

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

His attorney, Leon Spies, argued that it was the Bayliner that hit the Triton, citing witnesses who said they saw Verbeke driving erratically.

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

“First and foremost, my deep sadness 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 again be the same without Anita and Craig and not a day goes by that I don’t think about how this accident and the loss of Anita and Craig has affected those children, siblings, mothers, fathers I can’t imagine losing suddenly two people you care so much about. I’m sure this is absolutely unbearable, to say the least. I want the families to know that me, my son and my family would never intend to hurt anyone, not to mention the deaths 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 don’t think to that August night on the river and wished we had done something different to prevent the horrific th 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’m sorry,” Thiel said.

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