News Article

Splash Into Me

DMB could face charges over sewage. Chicago authorities say they have videotape of the eco-friendly rocker's tour bus dumping waste off a bridge and onto a boatload of tourists

Dave Matthews | WHAT A WASTE Matthews' camp denies being the dumpee
Image credit: Dave Matthews: Luis Martinez-Fashion Wire Daily/AP
WHAT A WASTE Matthews' camp denies being the dumpee

Maybe this is what Dave Matthews meant when he sang ''Don't Drink the Water.'' Matthews and his band are facing a lawsuit filed by the state of Illinois over an incident in which one of the Dave Matthews Band's tour bus drivers allegedly dumped the vehicle's septic tank through a grate in a bridge over the Chicago River, splashing the sewage onto a boatload of tourists. The environmentally friendly rocker's camp has denied the accusation, but on Wednesday, Chicago police played for reporters a surveillance video that purported to show the DMB bus crossing the Kinzie Street bridge at the time of the Aug. 8 incident. Now, in addition to the state lawsuit, which seeks $70,000 in fines, the band could face criminal charges as well.

''It's a criminal charge to pollute a river,'' Mayor Richard Daley told the Chicago Sun-Times. He added, ''Great band, by the way. I just want to say that.''

Police said the driver, Stefan Wohl, admitted driving a bus over the bridge around the time of the incident, but he denied dumping the 800 pounds of sewage, which landed on the heads of some 120 architectural sightseers passing beneath on a tour boat. DMB publicist John Vlautin told the Chicago Tribune that he was standing by his earlier statement that none of the band's drivers was involved in the incident. Band members also offered to give DNA samples to prove that the waste wasn't theirs. But investigators behind the civil suit said they could build a case without the DNA. Or maybe they just really, really didn't want to wade through the evidence.

Originally posted Aug 26, 2004