Most everyone in Wisconsin knows about the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving. But when they think of drunk driving cases, they normally imagine a car, truck or motorcycle being involved. But operating other vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol can also lead to criminal charges, as well as a wrongful death civil lawsuit when a fatality is caused. Driving a boat while drunk or high, or both, can certainly lead to disastrous consequences.

Alcohol and drugs were both factors in a July, 2011 boat collision that killed four people. Authorities have determined that both boats were going in excess of 30 miles per hour when they collided, based on the fact that the throttles of both the speed boat and deck boat were stuck at full speed after the collision. The nighttime crash, which took place on the Chippewa River, has been under investigation nearly a year, and is now in the hands of Chippewa County prosecutors.

The District Attorney’s Office has not yet decided what, if any, criminal charges will be filed and against whom. The prosecutor’s office just received the completed investigation and does not want to make any hasty moves that may end up jeopardizing a conviction. Once the office has had time to thoroughly review the investigation report and evidence, as well as gather related information, charges may be filed.

While the case was under investigation by authorities, the families of the 4 dead men have had to bury their loved ones and cope with their sudden and shocking losses. As they have taken steps to attempt to put their lives back together over the past year, some have looked to Wisconsin civil courts for help in getting closure. Three wrongful death actions have already been filed, despite the fact that the criminal investigation was ongoing. The current status of those lawsuits has not been disclosed, but the results of the official accident investigation and any convictions obtained by the prosecutors may have an impact on those proceedings.

Source:, “New information released in fatal boat crash investigation,” Megan Wiebold, July 11, 2012

  • Our firm handles situations similar to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Wisconsin Personal Injury page.