Lawsuits filed in connection with fatal boat crash in 2020

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Lawsuits have been filed in Scott County Court in connection with a fatal boat crash in 2020.

Edward and Margaret Casey, of Naperville, Ill., have filed suit against James Thiel Sr., of Pleasant Valley; an unnamed minor; Ethan Mahler, of Bettendorf; and Thiel Enterprises LLC, doing business as Thiel Truck Center. They have demanded a jury trial.

The Caseys are the parents of 52-year-old Dr. Anita Pinc, the suit says. They owned the 10-foot 1993 Bayliner boat involved in the crash.

According to Scott County Court documents: The fatal crash

On Aug. 16, Pinc and Craig Verbeke, 61, who were engaged to be married, were on a boat ride on the Mississippi River in LeClaire on the Bayliner. Verbeke was driving the boat.

Thiel was in a 35-foot 2007 Triton boat, traveling south, or downstream. The boat had 13 people in it “in spite of the boat’s maximum capacity of 12 people.”

Thiel was assisting a minor who was operating the boat owned by Thiel’s company.

Mahler was operating a Scarab boat traveling south, or downstream.

Witnesses saw the Scarab boat moving “very fast,” and the Triton boat followed it. The Scarab and the Triton appeared to be racing, some witnesses said.

The Triton approached the Bayliner “at an excessive speed” and hit the back and left side of the Bayliner.

After the crash, witnesses saw the Triton boat travel away from the scene toward the Illinois side of the river. When it returned to the Bayliner, only a few passengers returned.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources report says factors that contributed to the crash were excessive speed, carelessness, improper lookout, operator inexperience, rules of road violation, failure to yield and alcohol use.

Pinc and the family dog died at the scene. Verbeke died three days later from his injuries.

The suit accuses Thiel, the minor, Mahler and Thiel Truck Center of negligence.

Thiel faces four charges – two felony and two aggravated misdemeanor – of involuntary manslaughter, Scott County Court records say. 

In an arrest affidavit, law enforcement officers say Thiel allowed his boat to be driven “at a high rate of speed in an area of high boating traffic thereby participating and aiding in the operation of a boat in a careless, reckless or negligent manner resulting in a collision with another boat.”

Earlier, Thiel pleaded not guilty.

He is set for a preliminary hearing March 22, 2022. A jury trial is set for April 11, 2022, court records say.

Additionally, Quad-City Bank & Trust, as administrator of the estate of Craig Verbeke, has filed suit against Thiel Sr., Thiel Enterprises, LLC, the minor and Mahler.

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