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DMB Bus Driver Charged in River Dump

Chicago River dumping saga continues

January 20, 2005 12:00 AM ET

Stefan Wohl, a Dave Matthews Band tour bus driver, was charged yesterday with dumping 800 pounds of human waste onto a sightseeing boat on the Chicago River last August. Wohl, who turned himself in to authorities yesterday and was subsequently released, faces a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine and a year in jail.

According to the police, the forty-two-year-old Wohl was driving the empty tour bus to a hotel in downtown Chicago when he decided to empty the bus' septic tank as he crossed the bridge. More than 100 people were on board the Little Lady tour boat below at the time. Though no one was injured, some of the tourists have contacted the Little Lady's managing company asking for compensation for damaged clothing.

The city also filed suit against the band and its driver in August, charging them with violating water pollution and public nuisance laws, and seeking $70,000 in damages.

As a gesture of goodwill while the investigation was ongoing, the Dave Matthews Band donated $50,000 to both the Friends of the Chicago River and the Chicago Park District in October. "We have been working with Chicago authorities to resolve our questions about the bus incident," read a band statement. "We simply want to begin the healing process."

The band quickly suspended Wohl, and has been cooperating fully with Chicago police, flying violinist Boyd Tinsley, who had used the bus in question, from California for an interview.

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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