Charges dropped in case of fatal jon boat crash

boat

Prosecutors have dropped all charges filed against the pilots of two jon boats involved in a crash that killed four people in Burlington, Iowa.

The boats collided as they were shuttling people across the O’Connell Slough to and from Otter Island near Burlington around 1:30 a.m. May 19, 2012.  Four people died and eight people were hospitalized as a result of the crash. 

Burlington residents Joseph Steven Schier Jr., 21 and Douglas Charles Metcalf, 22 were each charged in December 2012 with one count of operating a motorboat while intoxicated causing death as well as four counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

Court records show the charges against Schier were dismissed in late June 2013.  Charges against Metcalf were dismissed October 1, 2013.

“All charges have now been dismissed because, according to the Des Moines County Attorney’s Office, the State was unable to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt,” said a statement from Metcalf’s attorney, Robert Rehkemper, of Gourley Rehkemper and Lindholm, PLC.

Rehkemper was critical of investigators in the case, suggesting important questions that led to the dismissal of the charges were not asked during the crash investigation.

“It is unfortunate that the questions asked and answered by the defense which ultimately lead to this dismissal of the charges were not asked by the law enforcement officers and agencies responsible for investigating the accident in the first place.  Too often serious charges such as these are filed before the most important questions are answered simply to relieve political pressure,” Rehkemper said.  “Thankfully, the Assistant Des Moines County Attorneys assigned to this case were courageous enough to re-evaluate their position after all of the facts were uncovered and should be commended for doing so.”

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