- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2022

The date of Aug. 8 is a real stinker of an anniversary for the city of Chicago.

It’s the infamous day in 2004 when a tour bus with the Dave Matthews Band dumped 800 pounds of human waste from the Kinzie Street Bridge into the Chicago River — and right onto an open-air tourist boat.

There was “stunned silence initially. Then sort of this horrible realization as they began to smell themselves as to what happened,” a Boston man told the Chicago Tribune for the newspaper’s original report published 18 years ago. “It was horrific.”

The Chicago Architecture Foundation, which was running the boat tour, gave the passengers who were covered in the “brownish-yellow” substance the works — it refunded their tickets as well as comped their dry cleaning and rides back to their hotels so they could shower off.

But the search for who decided to flush their mobile toilet into the Chicago River was just beginning.

One of the passengers had jotted down the passing bus’ license plate number, which was then traced back to one of Dave Matthews band’s tour bus drivers.

The driver denied involvement, though multiple reports cited surveillance footage from a nearby health club proving it was the band’s bus that committed the act.

Eventually a different driver, Stefan Wohl, was charged for his involvement. He pleaded guilty in March 2005 to depositing the septic tank into the river.

Wohl was given 18 months probation, fined $10,000 and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service for reckless conduct and discharging contaminants into the Chicago River, according to the BBC.

The Dave Matthews Band settled with the state of Illinois for $200,000, and also paid a total of $100,000 to two groups that work to protect the Chicago River.   

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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