Dave Matthews Band Chicago River incident

2004 environmental incident in Chicago, Illinois

On August 8, 2004, a Dave Matthews Band tour bus dropped about 800 pounds (360 kg) of human waste from the bus's blackwater tank through the Kinzie Street Bridge in Chicago onto a passenger sightseeing boat sailing in the Chicago River below.

Kinzie Street Bridge (front), the location of the incident

As part of a 2005 legal settlement, the band agreed to pay $200,000 to environmental protection and other projects. The band also donated $100,000 to two groups that protect the river and the surrounding area.[1] The band's bus driver, Stefan Wohl, pleaded guilty to dumping the waste in April 2005.[2]



On August 8, 2004, at 1:18 p.m.,[3] Stefan Wohl, the band's tour bus driver, was alone in the bus and driving to a downtown hotel. He then emptied the bus' blackwater tank as it crossed the metal grates of the Kinzie Street bridge.[4]

According to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, passengers on the boat included persons with disabilities, elderly, a pregnant woman, a small child, and an infant. She described the incident:

The liquid waste was brownish yellow in color, and had a foul, offensive odor. The liquid human waste went into passengers' eyes, mouths, hair, and onto clothing and personal belongings, many of which were soaked. Some of the passengers suffered nausea and vomiting as a result of exposure to the human waste.[3]



In March 2005, Wohl pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and discharging contaminants to cause water pollution. The Dave Matthews Band did not immediately apologize after supporting Wohl.[2] He was sentenced to 150 hours of community service, fined $10,000 to be paid to Friends of the Chicago River, an environmental organization, and received 18 months probation. The Dave Matthews Band donated $50,000 to the Chicago Park District, $50,000 to Friends of the Chicago River, and paid the State of Illinois $200,000 in settlement.[2]


  1. "Band settles over sewage dumping". BBC News. April 30, 2005.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Band Driver Pleads Guilty To Dumping Waste". CBS2 Chicago. Associated Press. March 5, 2005. Archived from the original on February 16, 2006.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Dave Matthews Sued For Dumping On Chicago". The Smoking Gun. August 25, 2004.
  4. "Dave Matthews' Driver: I Dumped". CBS News. Associated Press. March 9, 2005.