Boater receives 113 days in jail and 2 months house arrest for fatal accident on Otter Tail Lake

The wife, daughters and sisters of Neil “Pat” Baker, 52, emotionally testified Wednesday, Nov. 24 in Otter Tail County District Court before Judge Sharon Benson convicted Charles Willis Gramith of Roseville , Minnesota, to 113 days in jail and two months of house arrest. Gramith pleaded guilty in August to a homicide and driving charge that caused an accident that killed Baker instantly.

“The accused did not take a single person,” said Baker’s daughter, Hayley Baker. “He destroyed a family, a life of memories.”

Four other charges were dismissed, three of which alleged that he was under the influence of alcohol or intoxicating substances. The charge to which he pleaded guilty said he had left the scene of the accident.

He will get credit for four days of time served. He also has to do annual watercraft safety conferences for 10 years, which is the length of his probation.

Gramith crashed his boat on August 22, 2020 in Baker’s moored boat near 30529 Minnesota Highway 78, on the northeast side of Otter Tail Lake, according to the criminal complaint.

Baker’s wife Pamela told investigators she was helping her husband tie up the boat to their dock when they saw their next door neighbor Gramith heading towards them at high speed, documents show judicial. She then said “it’s getting hot” before Gramith crashed into their boat, according to the criminal complaint.

The collision knocked down Pamela Baker but she survived the crash. Neil Baker was found in the water.

Gramith told investigators he drank two beers while operating the boat and one before, according to the complaint. He then parked his boat on an elevator, according to the complaint.

Instead of going in the water to help Neil Baker, Gramith went to his house to get a glass of water because it was hot, according to the complaint.

A preliminary test showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.051%, but a doctor who prepared a toxicology report said that level was inconsistent with the amount of alcohol Gramith said he drank, according to one. amended complaint.

The doctor said Gramith’s blood alcohol level should have been 0.081%, just above the legal limit, according to the complaint. The doctor added that the drugs Gramith was taking at the time could have increased the harmful effects of alcohol, according to the complaint.

Gramith faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for driving homicide. His lack of criminal history, cooperation with the investigation and other factors worked in his favor to get a lower sentence, Gramith’s lawyer Debbie Lang said.

The family recalled how kind and caring Neil Baker was, adding that he loved the outdoors and the lake. Her death was tragic, senseless and shattered the memories the family made on the lake, her sister, Colleen Keough, said.

“Pat was a very good man, and you are not,” she said, addressing Gramith, adding that her selfish lack of judgment robbed them of Neil Baker. “I hope you will suffer for the rest of your life as we have.”

Gramith showed little emotion throughout the hearing. He said he was sorry for what had happened and that he would think of the Baker everyday for the rest of his life.

“I take responsibility for Pat’s death because I was driving the boat and didn’t get into the water to help,” Gramith said.

He is due to report to prison on December 28.

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Tommy Dodd

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