McHenry fatal boat crash victims described as ‘kind-hearted, giving’

Couple died after boat left Fox River, flipped and landed in yard

Tim and Julie Mertins

Tim and Julie Mertins loved going out in their boat in the evenings, often taking friends and family along, a longtime family friend said.

Authorities on Monday identified Tim Mertins, of McHenry, as one of two people killed when a boat sped off the Fox River on Saturday, flipped over and landed in a yard along Country Club Drive outside McHenry.

Officials with the Illinois Conservation Police, which is investigating the crash, identified the couple as husband and wife, and authorities on Tuesday confirmed Julie Mertins of McHenry was the other person killed in the crash.

Authorities said they still were investigating why the boat ran aground, hitting the decking on a home, breaking apart and landing on top of the two victims.

Tim Mertins, 62, was identified Monday by the Lake County Coroner’s Office after he was pronounced dead in an operating room at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he’d been flown after the crash. He died of blunt force injuries suffered in the crash, the coroner said in a statement.

Julie Mertins was killed at the scene, officials said. The McHenry County Coroner’s Office said in a statement Tuesday that Julie Mertins also died of blunt force injuries suffered in the crash.

Longtime friend Sandi Schober said Julie Mertins was from Schaumburg, attended Conant High School in Hoffman Estates and that the two friends met decades ago when they were teenagers and worked together at a Brown’s Chicken in Schaumburg.

The friends went to different colleges after high school but kept in touch; visiting each other at school, “camping with the girls” in the summer; and getting together for family holiday parties, birthdays, christenings “and all of that,” Schober said.

“No matter the distance, we kept up with each other and picked up where we left off,” she said.

The couple’s family includes two adult children, said Schober, who described the couple as “always kind-hearted, giving, hardworking people” and Julie Mertins as being someone with an “infectious smile” and always there to listen.

“They raised two great kids, a boy and a girl,” she said.

Schober lives in Wisconsin now but said she’s often gone out boating on the Fox River with Tim and Julie Mertins during summer visits to Illinois.

“We really had a lot of laughs and great memories,” Schober said, calling them “positive people.”

The boat was described by conservation police as a 33-foot Cobalt. After it hit the shore, the twin outboard cruiser traveled 73 feet onto the shore, authorities said.

Witnesses reported that the boat was “traveling very fast up and down the Fox River south of the Snuggery Restaurant ... weaving back and forth across the water,” Illinois Conservation Police said in a news release.

Neighbors described harrowing scenes of trying to help remove the couple from underneath the boat.

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