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Drunk boater gets 4 days in jail over best friend's drowning on Lake Kabetogama

The 56 year old from Illinois pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DWI.

The Chicago man drunk at the wheel of a boat when his best friend was thrown overboard and drowned was sentenced to time served.

Stanislaw Kozaczka, 56, of Harwood Heights, Illinois, was piloting the boat on Lake Kabetogama, in the Voyageurs National Park, while under the influence on Sept. 20 last year.

He drove the boat into another boat's wake, throwing Wlodzimierz Dziechciowski, 66, to his death, and later gave a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) reading of .105 (the legal limit is 0.08).

He initially faced up to 10 years in prison after being charged with criminal vehicular homicide, but court records show he agreed a plea bargain to misdemeanor DWI while operating a boat, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

But 86 of those days were set aside, and he was given credit for the four days he'd already served and placed on probation.

The plea agreement in St. Louis County ruled that Kozaczka was under the influence of alcohol, but was not directly responsible for his friend's death.

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Dziechciowski was trying to haul in a fish he'd just caught when the boat hit the wake and he was tossed overboard. Kozaczka came around and tried to pull him in, but couldn't lift the heavy man back on board.

By the time passersby had helped get him to shore, he'd died.

Speaking after the case, his defense attorney Craig Cascarano told the Duluth News Tribune that the pair were best friends, and described the incident as a "tragic accident."

Kozaczka had retained the support of Dziechciowski's family, he added: "I can't imagine in my 43 years a more tragic situation than this."

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