Fargo man gets year in jail after NW Minnesota tubing accident

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A 21-year-old Fargo man who was above the legal limit while operating a boat on an Otter Tail County lake, seriously injuring a tuber was sentenced to a year in jail this week.

The Perham Focus reports on July 4, 2012, Lucas Michael Buerkley was behind the wheel of the boat that was pulling his friend, Nicholas Schmit, on a tube on the north side of West McDonald Lake.

Buerkley was 19 and Schmit, also of Fargo, was 18 at the time, KK Radio reported.

Schmit fell off the tube and as Buerkley circled back around, he hit Schmit with the propeller of the boat, Lakes Radio reported.

Schmit was airlifted to the hospital with multiple injuries, including rib fractures and tissue damage to his back muscles.

Buerkley admitted to police he had been drinking earlier that day. He had a blood-alcohol content of .096 percent, above the state's limit of .08 percent.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says drunk boating is one of the leading factors for boating accidents and injuries in the state. In 2012, officials said alcohol was a contributing factor in more than 30 percent of deadly boating accidents.

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