|FYI — November 2004|
|By Brad Dunn|
In August more than 100 people had to be disinfected—some were even taken to a hospital—after they were soaked with septic drainage from the Dave Matthews Band tour bus as it crossed over the Chicago River. Because they were massed on the boat’s top deck, most of the passengers were infected, including “senior citizens, a pregnant woman, a small child, and an infant,” according to the suit. After the 80 to 100 gallons of human waste bombarded the sightseers, some of whom were hit in open eyes and mouths, the tour-boat captain quickly returned to the dock.
State prosecutors fined the band $70,000, claiming its bus driver deliberately emptied the septic tank on the steel-grated bridge. Though the band initially denied the charges, the musicians later offered to provide DNA samples so detectives could verify the source of the sewage. “We care deeply about what happened to the people on the boat that day, which was terrible, and the damage that occurred to Chicago’s environment,” the band stated in a letter to the public.
For recreational boaters, who tend to be the usual suspects of marine pollution, the incident underscores those often-overlooked contaminators of water: automobiles. “It’s ironic that boaters are the focus of waste-discharge regulations, and in this case they were the victims of it—and from a bus, no less,” says Mary Lou Livingood, a director at the National Clean Boating Campaign in Washington. “I certainly hope this isn’t a regular occurrence that we never hear about,” she continues. “Either way, I think the Department of Transportation should look at it more closely.”
None of the tourists was seriously injured. Regardless, all were refunded the $26 they paid for the tour.
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This article originally appeared in the October 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.