The driver of a speedboat involved in a Friday night crash that killed four people, including the driver, had racked up numerous drunken driving convictions, according to online Wisconsin court records.

Mark Michels, 50, of Eau Claire, Wis., had been charged seven times with operating under the influence [OWI], the records showed. His boat and a deck-boat carrying six members of a wedding party collided head-on on the Chippewa River in Chippewa County, Wis., about 9:45 p.m. Friday.

Authorities said both boats were traveling swiftly when the accident was reported, even though they should have slowed down after nightfall.

Luke Pohl, 25, of Elk River; Matthew Simonson, 28, of Brooklyn Park; and Matthew Overhulser, 28, of Eau Claire, also died.

Michels' passenger, Carol Oller, 49, of Hayward, Wis., was injured. They were the only two on the speedboat and had been seen drinking at a Lake Hallie, Wis., bar earlier in the evening.

Authorities have said the driver of the deck boat, Robert Romanshek, 56, of Eau Claire, also had been drinking before the accident. No decision has been made yet about whether he will be charged, authorities said. The other survivors include Leo Pohl, 29, and Gregory Voight, 29, both of Buffalo, Minn.

All six of the people on the deck boat were in town to celebrate the marriage Saturday of Leo Pohl, the brother of Luke Pohl, and Maura Romanshek, 27, the daughter of Robert Romanshek. The wedding has been postponed.

Chippewa County Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk said Monday that the investigation of the crash has been turned over to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Those investigators were busy all day Monday in the autopsies of Pohl, Simonson and Michels. No autopsy was being done on Overhulser because he died of obvious head trauma.

Simonson had worked as a landscaper and recently bought a truck and a house. He loved to fish and often went out boating with his friends, said his uncle, Michael Simonson.

Matthew Simonson had proposed to his fiancée a week before his death, his uncle said.

"We were told to just remember that caring face and the nice guy that he was," said Michael Simonson.

"It's tragic," he said. "I haven't slept since. It's really hard."

The families of the other victims did not want to comment Monday.

Michels' most recent conviction for operating under the influence was in April 2004 in Eau Claire County, Wis. He was charged again in 2007 in Wood County, Wis., with the same offense, but those charges were dismissed by the prosecutors, the records show. He also had been charged several times with operating after revocation and suspension and bail jumping. The online records do not say what vehicle Michels was driving or what his blood-alcohol level was in those cases.

Authorities said the investigation into the boat crash could take several weeks.

"I've been sheriff for 34 years," Kowalczyk said. "And the state of Wisconsin has done everything under the sun to curb OWI. I see only one fix to the problem. Absolute sobriety for everyone."

Pat Pheifer • 612-673-7252 Daarel Burnette • 651-735-1695