Reporting Rachel Slavik
LAKE HALLIE, Wis. (WCCO/AP) – Search crews have found the bodies of two Minnesota men missing in the Chippewa River in western Wisconsin.
A kayaker near Riverview Park located the body of Luke Pohl, 25, of Elk River around 8 a.m. Sunday. Rescue teams found the body of 28-year-old Matthew Simonson, of Brooklyn Park, a short time later. They were among four killed when two boats collided Friday night.
Autopsies will be performed on both bodies. The causes of death at this time are not known.
Two days after two boats collided on the Chippewa River, the damage to the speed boat is significant. The hole in the port side gives an idea of the speed a Prince Craft, a pontoon-type boat, was traveling when authorities said it crashed into the smaller boat.
“Recreating on the waterways is something where utmost attention needs to be paid,” said Undersheriff Eugene Gutsch of the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office.
Six members of a wedding party were celebrating the upcoming nuptials on the Prince Craft boat. The celebration was cut short around 9:45 Friday night.
The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office released pictures of the damage to the boats. The force of the impact killed four.
Among the dead, 28-year-old Matthew Overhulser of Eau Claire, Wis., 25-year-old Luke Pohl of Elk River, 28-year-old Matthew Simonson of Brooklyn Park and 50-year-old Mark Michels of Eau Claire, Wis. Michels was driving the speedboat.
Three others were injured. They’ve been identified as Leo Pohl of Buffalo, Minn., Greg Voight and Carol Oller.
Leo Pohl was to have been married Saturday. He remains hospitalized. All parties involved in the boat crash are now accounted for.
“It’s a very, I’m sure, trying time and very tragic for the families,” Gutsch said.
The damage to the boats is extensive, but the damage caused to the families involved is irreparable.
“Obviously, I don’t know that if any of us can speak to the feelings and the loss that they’ve experienced,” Gutsch said.
The DNR arrested 57-year-old Robert Romanshek. According to Gutsch, Romanshek is the father of the bride. He now faces drunken boating charges and possibly even manslaughter.
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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