Friday, August 26, 2005
Okoboji-Nearman-Brosnahan-Hit and run-Boat owner to be identified today...will Nearman surrender?
Owner of suspect boat to be identified today The South Dakota man accused of driving the vessel is free on bond prior to an extradition hearing. By ABBY SIMONS and FRANK SANTIAGO REGISTER STAFF WRITERS August 26, 2005 Authorities are expected today to identify the owner of a boat believed to have been involved in a hit-and-run collision on West Okoboji Lake that killed a Dallas County dentist. No charges are expected against the owner, said John Quinn, supervisor in charge for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. Justin Allen Nearman of Brandon, S.D., has been charged with operating the boat Aug. 12 when it slammed into a craft carrying Perry dentist Michael Brosnahan, 51; his wife, Jill, 50; and four others. Sally Nelson, who has lived with her husband in the Village West condominiums near the lake since 2002 said Nearman is a familiar face around the condo and has done a lot of electrical wiring work on the units. "He's a great guy, that's what we know of him," Nelson said of Nearman. "I can't say never, but at least when I'm around he hasn't caused any problem here." Nelson said her neighbor, Richard "Chris" Brandt, often lets other people use his unit in the condominium. Nearman is the son-in-law of Brandt's girlfriend, she said. Nelson said she was staying at the condo the night of the fatal accident, but did not see Nearman in the building. The wreck was followed by a search of boats in the bay by law enforcement, she said. "They were searching all the boat lifts throughout the bay with heat sensors and spotlights," she said. "I was awakened several times. I could hear the racket on the lake, I could hear the sirens. I was really restless that night, I had no idea all of this had happened." Nelson said Brandt and his family are nice when they are at the condo, and are always willing to help. An Internet search found a January 2005 article quoting a Chris Brandt as president of Total Fire Protection of Brandon, S.D. Nearman was arrested Tuesday at his workplace, Elite Electric of Brandon. A person who answered the telephone at Nearman's home Thursday said Nearman had no comment. Nearman was free on bond Thursday while he awaits an extradition hearing next month in South Dakota. He faces felony charges that include drunken boating that resulted in a death. The boat was found Sunday on a lift at the lake. Quinn would not say if investigators have determined whether Nearman had permission to use the boat, or what his relationship is to the owner. Nearman's lawyer said Nearman expects to surrender to Dickinson County authorities. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Investigators said the boat Nearman was driving struck the Brosnahan craft in the rear and vaulted over it before it left the scene. Brosnahan was struck by the part of the boat that contains the gears and propeller, sheriff officials said. Jill Brosnahan, who suffered broken ribs, a punctured lung and facial cuts, was recently released from a South Dakota hospital and was able to attend her husband's funeral Monday. Four other passengers escaped injury. Nelson, the condo resident, said she has always had some trouble understanding why boats are on the lake at all hours, but feels bad for the people involved in this case. "Bad things happen to good people, and that is just one of those incidences where that can happen," she said. "They're not mean people, they're not bad people, they just had a real bad thing happen to them."