3 groomsmen among 4 killed in Wis. boat collision
Monday, July 25, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Three groomsmen celebrating a weekend wedding were among four people killed in a boat collision on a Wisconsin river that also left the groom-to-be hospitalized, officials said Sunday.
The bodies of two Minnesota men missing since the Friday night crash were pulled from the river Sunday, Chippewa County Undersheriff Eugene Gutsch said. Two other men were pronounced dead earlier.
Six people — including groom-to-be Leo Pohl of Buffalo, Minn., and his groomsmen — were on a pontoon-like Princecraft boat when it collided with a speedboat carrying two people about 9:45 p.m. Friday, Gutsch said. Pohl, who was to have been married Saturday, remained hospitalized Sunday. One of those killed was believed to be his brother.
“It’s a very tragic event all the way around,” Gutsch said. “Not only because there are four fatalities, but the circumstances of one boat containing a wedding party, and the next day is supposed to be the most joyous day of one’s life — and this, I’m sure, has changed that forever.”
Gutsch said Pohl’s bride was not on the boat and, to his knowledge, the wedding did not happen.
The driver of the speedboat, Mark Michels, 50, of Eau Claire, Wis., was killed on impact, after which the boat circled out of control until it ran aground. His passenger, Carol Oller, 49, of Hayward, Wis., was severely injured and remained hospitalized Sunday, Gutsch said.
Three passengers on the larger boat also were killed. Matthew Overhulser, 28, of Eau Claire, was found dead Friday. The bodies of Luke Pohl, 25, of Elk River, Minn., and Matthew Simonson, 28, of Brooklyn Park, Minn., were found Sunday morning.
Pohl’s body was found by a kayaker downstream from the crash site, and search teams found Simonson’s body near the crash site a short time later, Gutsch said.
The driver of the larger boat, a 56-year-old Eau Claire man, was arrested after the crash but later released, Gutsch said. An investigation was expected to take months.
Gutsch said the crash happened north of a heavily used recreation area called Riverview Park, near Two Taverns and Two Waters bars. The speedboat had been at a bar, Gutsch said, but authorities did not immediately know whether the wedding party was coming from.
Gutsch said none of the people involved were wearing life jackets.
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