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Cheeky duo causes waves in boater confrontation

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Tim Collette, a conservation officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, launched his patrol boat from Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake about 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12, to arrest a pair of naked troublemakers operating vintage stand-up personal watercraft. Brainerd Dispatch illustration2 / 2

Nude dudes on water scooters—that's the gist of it.

That, more or less, was the dispatch report to Tim Collette, a conservation officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, who launched his patrol boat from Cragun's Resort on Gull Lake about 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12, to arrest a pair of naked troublemakers operating vintage stand-up personal watercraft.

And not just two men in their birthday suits, Collette said, but allegedly drunk, belligerent men in their early 30s, wearing nothing more than life jackets and what their mamas gave them.

All in all, Kody Teslaa, 32, of East Gull Lake, and Daniel Klingelhutz, 31, of Waconia, were both cited for careless operation of a watercraft and disorderly conduct, while a third member of the group, Ryan Klingelhutz, 32, of Chanhassen, was cited for careless operation of a vehicle. Ryan Klingelhutz was driving a speedboat and didn't take part in the streaking antics of his peers.

How did this all start? A flash in the pan, one might say. Or more specifically, Collette said, alleged day drinking leading to reckless choices, reckless choices leading to an argument, an argument that got out of control and two grown men out of their skivvies.

Daniel Klingelhutz and Teslaa were reportedly disrupting lake traffic in Steamboat Bay—namely, circling and harassing a Cragun's Resort pontoon, then swamping and nearly capsizing a sailboat.

"Apparently, they knew the person with the sailboat, so it wasn't a big deal," Collette told the Dispatch during a phone interview Friday, Aug. 24. "Cragun's (Resort) said they threw enough waves at the sailboat that it just about capsized, so—regardless they were friends or not—it was still a dangerous act."

However, another complaint indicated the nautical roughhousing was venturing into R-rated territory. As he sped out to apprehend the indecent Jet Skiers, Collette said he was stopped by another pontoon—this time, a family with two daughters ages 8 and 14, who said they got into an argument with the Jet Skiers when they drove their craft too fast and too close to the pontoon.

Then, Collette said, the occupants of the pontoon told him they left, just for the cheeky Jet Skiers to return—bared, tan-lined posteriors mooning half of Gull Lake, everything hanging out and flapping in the breeze. At that point, they taunted the pontoon operator, he added, "making faces and pointing at him." While indecent, it wasn't an example of exposing oneself to a minor, because the acts weren't sexual in nature or intent, Collette clarified.

After following the au naturel offenders into Pike Bay, Collette spotted them—the Jet Skiers and their boating companion, making dangerous, haphazard circles in the bay to create waves they would then jump in close proximity to each other. They were again properly attired in swim trunks at this point, Collette noted, though they couldn't hide the fact they were inebriated, probably well past the legal limit.

"Each of them admitted to having six or seven drinks that day," said Collette, who added he did a field test on the operator of the boat who was too drunk to steer it safely. Although, he was too far from the Cass County facility, in Walker, or the nearest facility in Brainerd, if he was going to formally charge them with boating while intoxicated.

"In my estimation ... they certainly looked intoxicated and all three of them admitted they had been drinking most of the day."

Why toss the pants and go full monty? Apparently, the Jet Skiers thought they had a valid excuse, Collette said, if a lame one.

"They tried to tell me that their swim trunks came down on their own when they were coming up on these old Jet Skis," said Collette, who noted these personal watercraft are older stand-up models, a Kawasaki and Bombardier, that collapse back into the water when they're not being operated.

"I didn't buy that for a second. I told them if I was riding one of these things and my shorts fell down, my first reaction would be to pull my shorts back up. I talked with them for a while. They finally admitted they did it on purpose."

However, that didn't mean the three were going to be cooperative from then on. While Collette was towing the speedboat in, the two Jet Skiers returned to shore and scurried inside a house, he said, where they stubbornly refused to come out—even with a Cass County deputy on the scene.

"They wouldn't come out. It took us 45 minutes to get them to come out of the house," said Collette, who noted this development nixed whatever slim chances he still had to get a proper test on their blood alcohol levels. "It would have taken a search warrant to go in and get them."