REPORT: Both boaters drunk in crash that killed 4

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. — Authorities say both drivers were drunk in a boating crash that killed 4 people last summer.

It happened about an hour after sunset on July 22, 2011 while the boats were on the Chippewa River.

On Wednesday, Chippewa County District Attorney Steve Gibbs held a news conference to discuss the final crash report. Gibbs says he will review the report carefully before making a decision about whether to file charges against any of the survivors.

The report says both boats were going in excess of 30 mph and at full-throttle at the time of the crash.

“That is very, very very fast for a watercraft, especially at night,” said Gibbs.

The report also says both boat drivers were over the legal alcohol limit to drive. Mark Michels, who was killed, had a blood alcohol content of 0.127. Robert Romanshek, who survived, had a BAC of 0.084. Marijuana was also found in his system.

“This accident could have been prevented,” said Gibbs.


Romanshek did not respond to News 8’s phone call for comment. He was arrested the day of the crash, but later released.

The three young men killed on the boat he was driving were all in town for a wedding. They were Matthew Overhulser, Luke Pohl, and Matthew Simonson.

Gibbs would not say whether Romanshek could be charged in connection to their deaths as well as Michels, who was driving the other boat.

The report also says that  both boats had their navigational lights on at the time. Also, it says weather and water conditions did not play a role in the crash.