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Authorities: Boat Crash Investigation Could Take Months

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 8:41 am

Authorities are continuing to investigate the high-speed boat collision in Wisconsin that killed four people over the weekend, including three groomsmen celebrating a weekend wedding. In fact, now officials are saying that investigation could take several months.

A deck boat with six people aboard slammed into a smaller speedboat carrying two people Friday night on the Chippewa River, killing the three wedding attendants and a man in the second boat, and injuring the groom-to-be.

Preliminary information suggests both boats were traveling swiftly when the accident was reported about 9:45 p.m., even though they should have slowed down after nightfall, authorities said.

The Chippewa County Undersheriff described the impact as “a very high-speed collision.”

The Associated Press reports that state officials would work to reconstruct the collision, but the process could take six months or more. Authorities said it’s too early to know whether alcohol was a factor in the collision.

The driver of the larger boat, a 56-year-old Eau Claire man, was arrested briefly on suspicion of driving under the influence. His passengers included the groom-to-be, Leo Pohl of Buffalo, Minn., who was briefly hospitalized and released Saturday.

Reports have surfaced that the wedding, planned for Saturday, did not take place.

As we reported yesterday, three passengers on the larger boat were killed. Matthew Overhulser, 28, of Eau Claire, was found dead Friday night, while the bodies of Luke Pohl, 25, of Elk River, Minn., and Matthew Simonson, 28, of Brooklyn Park, Minn., were found Sunday morning.

The driver of the smaller boat was also killed. He was identified as Mark Michels, 50, of Eau Claire. Online records show that a man with the same name, age and hometown had multiple alcohol-related convictions, including a no-contest plea in 2004 to a seventh offense of operating while under the influence.

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