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Dautphetal: suspended sentences after the death of a boy in a dinghy accident |

An eleven-year-old died while touring on the Lahn near Dautphetal. A district court has now convicted the two men who were in the boat of negligent homicide.

The two men – brothers aged 36 and 32 – were sentenced on Thursday by the Biedenkopf district court to a suspended prison sentence of nine and ten months respectively for negligent homicide.

According to the court, the younger brother’s sentence is one month longer because he was also convicted of driving without a license. The 32-year-old is the partner of the eleven-year-old’s mother.

The public prosecutor’s office had demanded a sentence of one year’s probation. The co-plaintiff, representing the father of the deceased boy, joined in. The two men’s defense lawyers had pleaded for an acquittal.

Child found four hours later

The men went on a rubber dinghy tour with the boy on February 4, 2023 – despite the flood. The boat capsized near Dautphetal (Marburg-Biedenkopf). The adults were able to escape to the shore, but the child was carried away by the strong current.

It took four hours for helpers to find the eleven-year-old unconscious in a section of the Lahn between the municipalities of Friedensdorf and Carlshütte. He was taken to a clinic, where he died shortly afterwards.

Lahn was in flood

After the autopsy, the public prosecutor announced that… Child died “as a result of the accident”. be. It was not immediately clear whether the eleven-year-old drowned or froze to death in the ice-cold water.

The Lahn was in flood at the time; the water level was 1.17 meters, twice as high as normal. The public prosecutor’s office stated that an inflatable boat was unsuitable under the conditions and that the two defendants had made “an extremely careless and therefore grossly negligent decision.” The men breached their duty of care.

Court: Men should have carried out inspections

The court also assessed the behavior as negligent, but not “extremely careless.” Therefore, the prison sentences were somewhat lower than those requested by the public prosecutor. The court further reasoned that the men should have walked the route before their journey because there were clear signs of flooding at the entry point.

The weir where the boat capsized was only 200 meters away from the entrance – so it could have been seen during a bank patrol. According to the court, the check would also have been necessary because the inflatable boat has a corresponding warning about waves and currents.

Defender: Nothing happened on previous river trips

According to the defenders, what was crucial was that the Lahn was calmer at the entry point and the floodwaters were receding. It was said that the worse conditions at the weir could not have been foreseen from there. The inflatable boat is suitable for river trips. The two of them have often taken river trips with the eleven-year-old, even during floods. Nothing ever happened.

The eleven-year-old’s mother drove the three of them to the starting point of their boat trip. She has one child with the younger man, an almost two-year-old son. According to the court, the sentence was suspended because of this family connection.

According to the defense, the two men are unable to work and are currently undergoing psychological treatment for anxiety and stress disorders. The verdict is not yet legally binding.

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