Bayport MN Boats Crash

3 July 1998 Accident

Divers find fifth body, search ends

To be published 
in Star Tribune 
Tuesday, July 6, 1999

BAYPORT, Minn. (AP) -- Two more victims from a weekend boating accident were found in the St. Croix River on Monday, bringing the confirmed death toll to five.

The search of the water between Wisconsin and Minnesota ended Monday afternoon partly because of approaching stormy weather and because authorities weren't sure how many more victims might be in the water.

The first body found Monday morning was that of Carl L. Ludvigson, 26, of Dresser, Wis., said Washington County Sheriff Jim Frank. The body floated to the surface, a sheriff's dispather said. A second body surfaced Monday afternoon. The victim's name wasn't immediately available.

Frank said it remained unclear how many people were aboard the two pleasure boats when they collided after 1 a.m. Saturday on the river that borders Wisconsin. One boat sank in the water and was recovered the next day.

Both boats apparently were traveling in the same direction, toward Hudson, Wis. The boats reportedly had left an access area near P.D. Pappy's, a popular bar and restaurant in Stillwater. They collided a couple of miles down river.

On Saturday morning, divers found the bodies of Michael Jon Flamang, 31, and Steven Langer, 30, both of Apple Valley, who were both in the smaller boat.

On Sunday evening, divers found the body of Scott Robert DeVille, 33, also of Dresser. Authorities believe DeVille may have been driving the larger boat, a 28-footer that had been leased from an Edina-based company where he worked. DeVille and Ludvigson were friends, Frank said.

Recovery crews working in murky water got a break when they recovered two pieces of debris from the river bottom late Sunday afternoon -- one piece from each boat. Until the debris was found, authorities weren't certain exactly where the boats had crashed.

George Black, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said Monday that divers will continue searching for more bodies. Authorities had considered scaling back the search because the warm conditions with temperatures in the 90s were expected to make the bodies resurface.

The NTSB will interview witnesses and expects to have a report in six to eight months.

``We're not concerned with liability or criminal prosecution,'' Black said. ``We're concerned about why it happened and making sure it doesn't happen again.''

Black said sonar was picking up more wreckage on the bottom of the river that needs to be investigated.

``We will ultimately try to reconstruct the accident,'' he said.

Families who suspect their relatives died in the crash were waiting behind police tape in a wooded area on the shore of the river as search boats slowly moved through the area.

Kim Elverum, boat and water safety coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources, said the fatal crash was the worst in recent memory.

In the late 1960s, there were some boating accidents with five victims, he said.

``This one would be the worst one I can remember in the last 10 years. Maybe even back the last 20 years,'' Elverum said.

Prior to the weekend crash, there were eight boating fatalities in the state. Last year, 13 people died in boating accidents.

Copyright 1999 Associated Press 

Two more boat crash victims found

July  5, 1999  Web posted at:  8:26 PM EDT

BAYPORT, Minnesota (AP) -- The death toll from a weekend boating accident rose to five Monday as divers pulled two more bodies from the murky St. Croix River.

Authorities called off the search for more victims, saying all five people reported missing after Saturday's collision have been found.

Witnesses earlier had said as many as nine people may have been aboard the two pleasure boats.

The bodies found Monday included those of two 26-year-old men. The three other confirmed victims, all men in their early 30s, were found on Saturday and Sunday.

Both boats apparently were traveling in approximately the same direction toward Hudson, Wisconsin, when they collided shortly after 1 a.m. on Saturday.

Witnesses said the boats had left an access area near a popular bar and restaurant in Stillwater, before colliding a few miles down river.

George Black of the National Transportation Safety Board said investigators plan to reconstruct the accident and produce a report in six to eight months.

"We're not concerned with liability or criminal prosecution," Black said. "We're concerned about why it happened and making sure it doesn't happen again."

© 1999 Cable News Network.

Another 5 July AP report said the larger of the two crafts was worth between $80,000 and $100,000 was so new it was not yet registered. It also reported the 4th of July to be one of the busiest boating days on the St, Croix. It also referred to both craft as speedboats.

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