Man Convicted Of Misdemeanors In Fatal Iowa Boat Crash

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — A Pleasant Valley man has been acquitted of two felony manslaughter counts but convicted of two lesser misdemeanor counts for his role in a 2020 boat crash that killed two people.

A jury found James Theil Sr., 45, guilty Monday of two aggravated misdemeanor charges of involuntary manslaughter counts, but acquitted him of two felony involuntary manslaughter counts, the Quad-City Times reported.

Thiel faces up to two years on each misdemeanor count when he’s sentenced at a later date.

Prosecutors said Thiel owned and was aboard the 35-foot center-console boat in the Mississippi River on Aug. 16, 2020, when it collided with a 19-foot ski boat, killing 52-year-old Anita Pinc and her fiancé, 61-year-old Craig Verbeke, both of Moline, Illinois, aboard the smaller boat. Investigators said a 15-year-old was driving Thiel’s boat at the time of the crash.

Thiel and the teen driving his boat told investigators that the smaller boat crashed into them, but law enforcement's reconstruction of the crash showed that Thiel's boat struck the ski boat from the rear and ran over the top of the smaller boat while speeding at nearly 60 mph (96.5 kph).

Thirteen witnesses on the river testified that they saw Thiel's boat racing another boat before the crash. Thiel and several of his friends testified that Thiel’s boat was not racing with another boat.