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Oregon boater pleads not guilty in 2016 fatal crash

Mongan in court on seven new felony charges

OREGON – An Oregon man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to seven felonies in connection with a fatal boating crash more than a year ago.

Ogle County Circuit Court Judge John Redington found probable cause to charge Marc Mongan, 47, with one count of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison; three counts of reckless homicide, punishable by 2 to 5 years; and three counts of reckless conduct, punishable by 1 to 3 years.

Mongan's attorney, David Tess of Rochelle, also entered a demand for a jury trial, which he said should take about a week. A status hearing was set for Nov. 8.

The charges stem from the death of Megan Wells, 31, of Rockford, who was killed June 24, 2016, when a jonboat Mongan was operating struck her when it went over the back of the pontoon boat in which she was riding, throwing her overboard.

The collision occurred around 8:40 p.m. on the Rock River, about 3 miles north of Oregon.

In December, an Ogle County grand jury failed to indict Mongan on felony charges of operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol and aggravated reckless operation of a watercraft, so State’s Attorney Eric Morrow filed two misdemeanor charges – operating a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol and reckless operation of a watercraft.

Four more misdemeanors – improper passing when approaching a boat, reckless operation of a watercraft and two counts of careless operation of a watercraft – were added in July.

In August, at Morrow’s request, Redington appointed special prosecutor David Neal, from the Illinois State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor’s office, to prosecute the case. He said at the time that new evidence came to light that could lead to filing felony charges.

The misdemeanor charges have not been dismissed. “They are still tracking with the felony case,” Neal said Wednesday.

Wells, the mother of three small children, was a passenger on a pontoon boat operated by her uncle David Daily, 53, of Leaf River. Daily and his two other passengers, Phillip Lukes, 53, and Sherry Bushre, 60, both of Chicago, refused treatment at the scene, as did Mongan.

Mongan's passenger, Nicholas Lamb, 30, of Oregon, was treated at a Rockford hospital.

Mongan also is facing three civil lawsuits, one filed by Wells’ husband Robbie Wells, another filed by Lukes and Bushre, and a third filed by Daily and his wife Leigh.

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