BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (WCCO) — Police in western Wisconsin pepper sprayed a boater they believe was drunk when he buzzed near swimmers in his boat.

Police say the incident happened on Sand Lake near Osceola, Wis. on Saturday.

Officers said 27-year-old James Lynch was seen driving his “Stingray ski style” boat near people swimming in the lake and was also allegedly trying to swamp other boats on the lake.

According to Sheriff Pete Johnson, when officers tried to approach Lynch, he claimed he couldn’t get his boat to start and then jumped into the lake in an attempt to swim away.

“He just kept telling them he didn’t do anything wrong and he wasn’t going back to shore,” said Johnson.

Officers said that Lynch swam toward the shore, but when he found officers waiting for him there, he swam back out toward the middle of the lake. Police said this continued for about 2 hours, even though officers told Lynch he was under arrest.

“Basically following him around trying to get him to end his…well… I don’t think you can call it a high-speed pursuit,” said Johnson.

Eventually, officers were able to pepper spray Lynch and take him into custody.

Police said Lynch was slurring his speech and smelled strongly of alcohol.

Matt Lindberg was a swimmer who witnessed the incident.

“Drinking I guess. Not much to it. If that was me, I would have just stopped,” said Lindberg.

Lynch was also charged with recklessly endangering safety, which is a felony in Wisconsin.

“Some people when they have alcohol in them aren’t thinking things through. Obviously, this is one of those cases. He could have hurt someone so we wanted to make sure we got him off the lake,” said Johnson.

He has been charged with DWI in Polk County before. His next court appearance for this charge will be July 5.


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