Lawsuit accuses pair in Petite Lake boating death
Illinois Department of Conservation Police along with the Lake County Sheriffs Police alongside a boat that may have been part of a fatal accident on Petite Lake in Antich. | Joe Shuman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 12, 2013 2:17AM
A wrongful death lawsuit was filed Thursday in Lake County Circuit Court, naming a Bartlett man and woman as being responsible for the boating death of a 10-year-old boy on Petite Lake.
The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $50,000 against David Hatyina and Renee Melbourn, saying the family of Tony Borcia has suffered emotional distress from the youngster’s death and will continue to require the assistance of medical professionals for the “horrific events they have witnessed and for the incalculable loss they have suffered,” according to Matt Dudley, the Libertyville attorney representing the Borcia family in the civil suit.
Family members witnessed the Libertyville boy being run over by a boat alleged to have been operated by Hatyina, who is alleged to have been under the influence of cocaine and alcohol.
“The (Borcia) family is doing the best they can. It was a horrific tragedy, not only losing Tony, who was a beautiful, innocent little boy, but the manner it happened right in front of his siblings, seeing what they had to see and hearing what they had to hear. That makes it so much more senseless and preventable,” Dudley said.
Hatyina, 50, has pleaded not guilty to reckless homicide and aggravated DUI charges for the July 28 boating incident on the lake near Lake Villa. Authorities said Hatyina had a blood-alcohol level between .09 and .128 — above the legal limit of .08 — at the time of the incident.
Tony was wearing a red flotation device and was waving his arms when Hatyina piloted a 29-foot boat called “Purple Haze” when he was run over, the lawsuit alleges. Melbourn, 49, resides with Hatyina in Bartlett and was with Hatyina in the boat when the youngster was hit in the water, the lawsuit alleges.
Hatyina was financially responsible for the boat, but Melbourn assisted with the financial care and maintenance of the boat, according to the lawsuit. Melbourn and Hatyina are in a relationship, Dudley said.
Melbourn also “financially and/or otherwise contributed to the purchase of quantities of cocaine and/or alcohol which both she and David consumed while the aforementioned watercraft was being operated” at the time of the accident, the lawsuit states.
No criminal charges have been filed against Melbourn, according to Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ari Fisz, chief of felony review.
“We decided it would not be appropriate to charge her criminally. A civil complaint is something very different,” Fisz said.
Melbourn and Hatyina allegedly had been operating the boat recklessly on a neighboring lake hours before the incident on Petite Lake, according to Dudley. Empty bottles containing alcohol were found in the couple’s boat, he said.
“It is the Borcia family’s desire to hold both Mr. Hatyina and Ms. Melbourn accountable for the irresponsible and reckless actions that took Tony’s life,” Dudley said. “The civil justice system should ensure that the individuals responsible bear the burden of those costs.”
The civil case was assigned to Judge Jorge Ortiz and a status hearing will be set in March, Dudley said.
Hatyina is due back in court on his felony case Thursday, Dec. 20. He is free from custody on $1 million bond.