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5 Men Died in a Horrific Boat Crash on the St. Croix River

St. Paul Pioneer Press
July 1999

Stillwater, Minnesota, July 14, 1999 - When five men died last July 3 in a horrific boat crash on the St. Croix River, all of them were legally drunk, according to Washington County Sheriff Jim Frank.

In that accident, a larger 27-foot powerboat, believed to be driven by Scott R. Deville, 33, of Dresser, Wisconsin, going at full throttle, or about 70 mph, slammed into a smaller boat. Deville's blood-alcohol level was 0.249%, nearly two and a half times the legal limit of 0.10%.

In the smaller boat, Michael Flamang of Apple Valley, Minnesota, was the apparent driver and his blood-alcohol level was 0.220%, nearly as high as Deville, said Sheriff Frank.

Aboard the larger powerboat with Deville were Karl D. Ludvigson, 25, of Dresser, with a blood-alcohol reading of 0.197% and Quentin Thell, of Woodbury, Minnesota, also legally drunk with a 0.127% blood-alcohol level. All three of these men drowned.

Steve Langer, also of Apple Valley, age 30, was on the smaller boat with Flamang. Both men were killed instantly. Langer's blood-alcohol count was 0.177%

It was about 1 am when the two boats collided, sinking the larger boat, which was not recovered until the next day. Divers needed several days to locate all three bodies from the larger boat. After the crash, the smaller boat was recovered with the bodies of the two Apple Valley men on it.

There was a witness from Mendota Heights, Minnesota, who said he saw both Deville and Ludwigson drinking beer and rum on the river just before the crash occurred. Both boats reportedly had pushed off from an access area to a popular bar/restaurant in Stillwater, PD Pappy's, before the accident took place.

William Jepsen of the law firm of Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben is representing the family of Quentin Thell. Jepsen has worked as lead counsel for not only the Thell family, but also for the attorneys for the families of Carl Ludvigson and Steve Langer. Jepsen and two other attorneys representing the three families commenced a lawsuit in February of this year. The lawsuit was recently settled for the policy limits on both of the boats involved in the collision.

Jepsen commented that it is the firm wish of all of the families involved that the tragedy of this accident be a reminder to every one of the dangers of boating while intoxicated.