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Man facing 10 years in prison over deadly MN boating accident

The victim was thrown overboard when his boat hit a wake.

Homicide charges have been filed in the Minnesota boating accident that killed a Chicago-area man last week

It happened Sept. 20 on Kabetogama Lake in Voyageurs National Park, where the boat apparently hit a wake, throwing Illinoisan Wlodzimierz Dziechciowski to his death.

Authorities say the man piloting the craft, Stanislaw Kozaczka of Harwood Heights, Illinois, was drunk at the time, with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .105 percent. 

That's well over Minnesota's BAC limit of 0.08

According to the criminal charges filed in St. Louis County, Kozaczka and the victim had been staying at Kabetogama's Park Point Resort, and were on the lake fishing the day of the accident. 

He later told authorities that after one fishing excursion that afternoon, he pointed his boat back toward shore and apparently "crossed over another boat's wake." 66-year-old Dziechciowski, he said, was sitting on a tackle box on the boat's front deck and was not wearing his seatbelt. 

When the man fell overboard, Kozaczka turned the craft around and tried to pull him back aboard, but had difficulty because "the victim was a larger man."

Other boaters responded to his cries for help and managed to get Dziechciowski back to shore, but despite their lifesaving efforts, he was eventually pronounced dead by paramedics. 

The responding sheriff's deputies reported Kozaczka's "eyes to be red, watery and glassy" at the scene, and also smelled alcohol on his breath as he spoke, the criminal complaint says.

Now, he's charged with criminal vehicular homicide, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, and a fine of $20,000.

Boating while drinking

In Minnesota, 2017 was on pace to be one of the deadliest years for boating in more than a decade.

Alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in recreational boating deaths and is one of the most common factors in boating accidents nationally, U.S. Coast Guard statistics show.

In Minnesota, booze was a factor in nine of the 17 fatal boating accidents (that's 53 percent) in 2016, according to the DNR.

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