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Denver man charged in boating accident that injured girlfriend

BEMIDJI, Minn. – A Denver man was charged Thursday after allegedly running over his girlfriend with a boat while intoxicated Tuesday afternoon.

Lee Pratt Zitzer, 22, was charged with one count of operating a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The charge stems from Zitzer’s operation of a boat Tuesday on Movil Lake, which ended with his girlfriend, whose name, age and condition were not released, falling from the front of the vessel and eventually being struck by the propeller.

In the criminal complaint filed by the Beltrami County Attorney’s Office, the injury to Zitzer’s girlfriend is described in gruesome detail. She required surgery to repair a wound that was “approximately 12 inches long and (4 to 5) inches wide” extending from her “groin area down to her kneecap” on her right thigh, the complaint stated.

Police were called just before 4 p.m. Tuesday to an address in Turtle Lake Township. When they arrived, they found Zitzer’s girlfriend with the gash on her thigh and another “propeller wound” on her right shoulder. Several people were applying pressure to the wounds, according to the complaint.

Police found alcohol bottles in the boat, and said Zitzer was “speaking with a thick tongue.” Zitzer’s girlfriend, according to the complaint, fell from the front of the boat and was struck by the propeller as the vessel ran over her.

After initially being told by another man at the scene that he had been driving the boat, police learned from witnesses that the man had been on shore when Zitzer’s girlfriend was run over. That man eventually admitted that it was Zitzer who had been operating the vessel when the woman fell over, the complaint said.

Zitzer had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.099, police said.

Bail was set at $5,000. On Thursday afternoon, Zitzer was no longer listed as being in custody at the Beltrami County Jail.

His is next scheduled to appear in court Monday. The charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail, a $10,000 fine or both.

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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