One year in jail. That was the sentence for the 46-year-old man convicted in a deadly boating accident on the Mississippi River a couple of years ago.
But James Thiel Sr. was released on bond Wednesday at 3:41 p.m., about two hours after he was sentenced for the fatal boating crash in 2020.
Thiel was charged with involuntary manslaughter not long after the collision that killed Craig Verbeke and Anita Pinc. Thiel’s son was driving the boat. A jury found Thiel Sr. guilty, but not on the felony count the victims’ families wanted.
That kept the judge from handing down a tough sentence like the victims’ families sought.
The courtroom was full of the faces of family members who will never get to see their dad, mom or daughter again.
“My sincere heartfelt sorrow for what happened to those two that day goes out to the Pinc and Verbeke family. I’m sincerely, sincerely sorry,” said James Thiel Sr.
“I could not imagine suddenly losing two people you care for so much. I’m sure it is absolutely unbearable to say the least,” he said.
Thiel Sr. gave an emotional address to the court just minutes before his sentencing.
Thiel was accused of unintentionally killing Craig Verbeke and Anita Pinc in a boating accident in August of 2020. Years later, the families of Verbeke and Pinc still feel the loss.
“I know that the lives of their family members will never be the same without Anita and Craig. I take full responsibility. I’m sorry,” Thiel Sr. said.
“I cannot see my mother marry the love of her life and live happily ever after. She deserved that,” her daughter said in court in a victim statement.
Some people in the courtroom cried when the judge read the sentence: “You shall be committed to the Scott County Jail for a period of 365 days on each count … 90 days of that sentence will be imposed,” Judge Patrick McElyea said.
Thiel, who was booked into Scott County Jail at 2:53 p.m. Wednesday, was released at 3:41 p.m. on an appeal bond, according to Scott County Jail records. An appeal bond is an amount of money placed in holding while an appeal is being decided.