CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) – It’s almost been once year since a family’s wedding weekend turned tragic in a boat crash on the Chippewa River, killing four people.
Steve Gibbs, the Chippewa County District Attorney talked to the media on Wednesday afternoon, releasing new details of his investigation.
While the investigation is ongoing, Gibbs said several elements are clear, both drivers were speeding and drinking alcohol and one of them was using drugs.
It happened the night of July 22, 2011 on the Chippewa River near the Eau Claire-Lake Hallie border between a speedboat and a deck boat.
Based on their reconstruction, investigators with the Wisconsin State Patrol said the boats were traveling at a high rate of speed when rounding a corner.
“They were estimated to be in excess of 30 miles per hour at the time. The first responders found that both boats have the throttles full open or in the all the way open positions “, Gibbs said.
Mark Michels was behind the wheel of the speedboat with his girlfriend Carol Oller on board and Robert Romanshek was driving the deck boat with five other male passengers.
The men on the deck boat were in town for the weekend to celebrate a wedding the next day.
The District Attorney said both drivers were driving drunk at the time of the collision.
While Michels died from head trauma, Romanshek survived and was arrested.
Investigators found Romanshek, Luke Pohl and Matthew Simonson were drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana before the collision.
Gibbs said deck boat passenger Matthew Overhulser was taking amphetamines.
A family member told WEAU that's because Overhulser had a prescription for Attention Deficient Disorder.
Of the eight people involved, four people died and two were injured.
On the deck boat, Luke Pohl, Matthew Simonson and Matthew Overhulser died from injuries in the crash.
Carol Oller and Leo Pohl were taken to the hospital and later released.
While Romanshek was ticketed for drunk driving after the crash, Gibbs said there are still no additional charges.
“The Chippewa County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the reports and following up on the information and are considering charges at this time. And we anticipate having a charging decision within the next few months,” Gibbs said.
Romanshek is the target of a wrongful death lawsuit by Heather Pohl, the widow of Luke Pohl.
The lawsuit says she’s suffering from emotional distress after the crash.
She’s also suing Line Rec of Madison for allowing Mark Michels to operate the speedboat involved in incident.
Messages for Romansek and his attorney were not returned.
WEAU13 News hopes to learn more information in a full report when it becomes available.
CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) – A prosecutor plans to speak out Wednesday about a boat crash last summer that killed four people.
A news release from Chippewa County District Attorney Steve Gibbs says that he will “make a statement and answer limited questions” about the July 2011 crash in Chippewa Falls Wednesday afternoon.
A pontoon-type boat collided with a speedboat on the Chippewa River just north of the Eau Claire County/Chippewa County line. Multiple wrongful death lawsuits have been filed since the crash.
Gibbs says his office has the case, but that no charging decision has been made.
WEAU 13 News will have a crew in Chippewa Falls today, and you’ll find out the very latest on weau.com and on our evening newscasts.