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Homicide charges filed in death of Afton harbormaster

ELLSWORTH, Wis. -- A Minnesota man who was operating a speedboat in a fatal accident in June north of Kinnickinnic State Park beach was charged Thursday with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

Patrick A. Puhalla, 47, of Bayport, Minn., faces two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, one count of negligent operation of a vehicle and two counts of causing injury by operating a boat while intoxicated. The most serious charge carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Puhalla is scheduled to make his first appearance in Pierce County Court on Nov. 25.

David J. Riley, 40, of New Richmond, who was harbormaster at Windmill Marina in Afton, Minn., was killed in the June 5 accident. Another passenger in the boat, Daniel M. Schulte, 55, of Hudson, was injured.

According to the criminal complaint, Schulte told investigators the men were on their way back to the Windmill Marina from a Prescott bar. He said Puhalla was trying out a new radar system that had just been installed on the boat. Schulte also told officers on the scene that the three men had been drinking that evening.

A Wisconsin State Crime Lab analysis showed Puhalla’s blood-alcohol content was 0.114, above the threshold for drunken driving of 0.08.

(Forum News Service)

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