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DNR will investigate fatal boat-crash

Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin DNR

UNDATED (WSAU) The state D-N-R has taken over the investigation into the crash of two boats that killed four people in Chippewa County. And officials said it could take months to finish the probe.

Authorities said a speedboat and a pontoon-type boat were both going at high rates of speed late Friday night when they slammed into each other on the Chippewa River at Lake Hallie. The speedboat operator, 50-year-old Mark Michels of Eau Claire, was killed along with three men on the other boat who were in a wedding party. Autopsies were performed yesterday on two Minnesota men, 25-year-old Luke Pohl of Elk River and 28-year-old Matthew Simonson of Brooklyn Park. Officials said no autopsy was required for 28-year-old Matthew Overhulser of Eau Claire because he died from obvious head trauma.

All three were to be groomsmen for Pohl’s brother Leo, who was hurt in the crash the night before he was planning to get married. The wedding has been delayed.

Authorities said both boaters had been drinking. Prosecutors say they’ll wait for state reports before deciding whether to charge the pontoon operator, a 56-year-old Eau Claire man.

Online court records said the other boat operator, Michels, had been charged seven times with operating under-the-influence, with the last one resulting in a no-contest plea in 2004.