Charles Willis Gramith of Roseville was charged with three felonies Tuesday in Seventh District Court.
Gramith was piloting a boat Saturday afternoon on Otter Tail Lake that collided with a parked watercraft killing its owner, Neil Baker, a 52-year-old Elysian man.
The two men resided in neighboring lake homes approximately 2 miles southwest of Ottertail on State Highway 78.
Baker’s wife, who saw Gramith approaching their dock at a high rate of speed, yelled the warning “he’s coming in hot” before being knocked down when Gramith’s boat crashed into their boat. Baker was later found lying in the water with injuries beyond life-saving measures.
According to court records, a preliminary breath test of the 72-year-old Gramith revealed a blood-alcohol concentration of .051. The blood-alcohol limit for operating a boat in Minnesota is 0.08.
The charges against Gramith include operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner, operating a vehicle with negligence under the influence of alcohol and operating a motor vehicle under influence of an intoxicating substance.
Court records state that after ramming into the Baker’s boat Gramith’s boat circled before gaining control.
Gramith, who admitted to piloting the boat, told a deputy he had thought about jumping into the water but instead put his boat onto its lift and went into his lakehome to get a glass of water.
The Otter Tail County deputy who interviewed Gramith after the accident observed Gramith licked his lips continuously. The deputy also smelled a moderate odor of alcohol coming from him. Gramith admitted that he took a number of medications. He also said he had consumed two beers while in his boat and one earlier in the day.
The deputy retrieved a list of medications from Gramith’s wife as well as a number of additional medications not mentioned by the defendant. Two of the medications reviewed by a deputy, a pharmacist and jail staff indicated warnings for use with alcohol.
Baker died instantly according to a preliminary autopsy conducted by Dr. Gregory Smith who found significant head trauma and lacerations on the deceased.
The three charges brought against Gramith each carry terms of imprisonment up to 10 years and fines of $20,000, or both.
Gramith was taken to the Otter Tail County Jail Saturday after giving a blood sample for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He made his first appearance in Seventh District Court at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office was alerted at 3:24 p.m. Minnesota State Patrol, Otter Tail County Water Patrol and Minnesota conservation officers were at the scene when the deputy arrived.