Trial set in May for two men charged in Mississippi River boating deaths

Boats were ferrying people from party on island sandbar near Burlington

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A trial date has been scheduled for two men who were charged with involuntary manslaughter and boating while intoxicated after two boats collided on the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa, killing four.

Douglas Metcalf, 22, and Joseph Schier Jr., 21, are scheduled to stand trial May 13. Both men have pleaded not guilty, according to the Hawk Eye newspaper.

Authorities say the two were piloting johnboats near Burlington around 2 a.m. on May 19 when the collision happened. The boats were ferrying people from a party on an island sandbar. The crash occurred about four miles northeast of the U.S. Highway 34 bridge that connects Iowa with Illinois.

Metcalf had several people in his boat, Schier was alone. Several people were thrown into the water, and four died.

Attorneys for Schier and Metcalf could not be reached for comment Monday, according to the newspaper. Ty Rogers, an assistant Des Moines County attorney prosecuting the cases, could not be reached for comment either.

It's unclear whether the men will stand trial together or separately, and a judge still has to rule on whether prosecutors can present evidence of sobriety tests or blood and urine samples taken from the men after the crash.

Metcalf and Schier face the same charges, but authorities say Metcalf had marijuana in his system, while Schier is accused of operating the boat under the influence of alcohol.

If convicted, the men face sentences ranging from probation up to 25 years in prison. The men also could be ordered to pay fines and restitution.

District Judge Michael Schilling also set a pretrial conference for April 15. Schier's pretrial hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Metcalf's is set for 9:45 a.m.

Both men remain free on personal recognizance bonds.

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