A Custer City man is headed to trial in October on charges he ran over a man while boating drunk on Angostura Reservoir two summers ago.
Cory Schmitz, 41, is facing charges of aggravated assault and vehicular battery in an incident in which 31-year-old Michael Lemley, who was wakeboarding in the reservoir, was struck and seriously injured in 2015. Schmitz is charged in Seventh Circuit Court also with boating under the influence of alcohol. Schmitz has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Lemley, of Rapid City, suffered head trauma and several lacerations to his upper back and shoulders, according to an investigator with the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department. He was airlifted to Rapid City Regional Hospital for treatment.
He was in the water around 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2015, when Schmitz’s speedboat struck him, according to a law enforcement report filed at the Fall River County courthouse.
“The boat just ran over him and kept going,” the victim’s wife, Melena Lemley, told D.J. Schroeder, an officer with GF&P, according to the report. She had been waving her arms, yelling at the speedboat driver to stop and pointing at her husband in the water, but the driver reportedly “flipped her off.”
Michael Lemley had been sitting in the water, his board strapped to his feet. Only his head and the top part of his body were above water when the “boat went right over the top of him,” the report reads.
The vessel was described as a 33-foot Profile “cigarette” boat.
Schmitz told Schroeder he didn’t see anyone in the water as he was heading back to shore from a cove party that evening. A boat ahead of him had made a hard left turn, Schmitz said, and he believed someone waved at him, which was a common occurrence whenever he was on his speedboat.
Schmitz said he had consumed about 12 cans of beer that day. He was arrested and detained at the Fall River County Jail after a preliminary breath test showed his blood alcohol content at .079 percent, says the report. The legal limit for driving is .08 percent.
Pieces of Lemley’s wakeboard were later found by the shore. Lab testing of Schmitz’s port-side propeller showed traces similar to the material of Lemley’s wakeboard, according to court records.
Schmitz was charged on the various counts in 2016 and this year.
Two of several people aboard the speedboat with Schmitz that night told another investigator he had been driving 80 mph. The group had apparently been leaving the Lake-a-Palooza event held at Angostura Reservoir that day.
The two passengers said they heard a thud while the boat was moving across the water. One of them said he saw “something black fly in the air,” which he thought was a wakeboard.
In a separate incident a day earlier on Pactola Reservoir, an intoxicated man caused a boating accident that killed a 33-year-old Rapid City woman.
Last year, Jody Kreycik, 30, was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter and boating under the influence in the death of Gabrielle Fisher. Kreycik was driving a personal watercraft and jumped a wave before crashing into a boat carrying Fisher. She was thrown overboard; her body was recovered three days later.
Schmitz’s most serious charge, aggravated assault, is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Vehicular battery carries a maximum of 10 years, and boating under the influence, a year in jail.
He is scheduled to go on trial Oct. 2-6 at the Fall River County Courthouse.
Schroeder declined to discuss details of the incident with the Journal, citing the ongoing court case.
Lemley, who has recovered and is back at work, declined to answer questions on the case. Schmitz’s lawyer, Randy Connelly, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Court records show Schmitz has been previously convicted on a dozen misdemeanor charges that include reckless driving, careless driving or speeding in Custer, Lawrence and Pennington counties between 1994 and 2015.