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Raising the boat

A diver, lower left, helps as the wrecked Kachina powerboat is raised from a depth of 95 feet in Bighorn Reservoir last October.

Surviving family members of the passengers killed in a boating wreck on Bighorn Reservoir in 2018 are making claims against the estate of the driver, who died as a result of his injuries.

The boat crashed into a cliff at the popular recreation area on Aug. 11, 2018, killing passengers Nathan Kelley, 36, Tammy Scoville, 58, and her son Christian Scoville, 35.

Boat owner Robert Ludwick, 63, was flown by helicopter from the scene to St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings but later died from his injuries.

In April, the Ludwick estate disallowed claims made by family for each of the three deceased passengers. Those family members now must petition the court to allow their claims.

District Court Judge Ashley Harada granted an extension for the petitions, which are due in July.

The claims are for present and future damages but the amount is undetermined, filings note. 

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According to investigators, Ludwick had been drinking alcohol on the day of the crash, and investigators searching his boat found prescription medication whose warning labels said it should not be mixed with alcohol, according to a National Park Service report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The boat’s speedometer needle was stuck at 54 mph, investigators found after the crash.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.