Criminal Charges for 3 in Fatal Duck-Boat Accident

17 died on vessel that sank in 2018 in Branson, Mo.
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 16, 2021 11:42 AM CDT
Criminal Charges for 3 in Fatal Duck-Boat Accident
In this July 23, 2018, file photo, a duck boat that sank in Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo., is raised after it went down the evening of July 19 after a thunderstorm generated near-hurricane strength winds, killing 17 people.   (Nathan Papes/The Springfield News-Leader via AP)

(Newser) – A local prosecutor on Friday filed a total of 63 felony criminal charges against three employees over a July 2018 tourist boat accident on a Missouri lake that killed 17 people. The charges were filed in Stone County against the captain, the general manager, and the manager on duty the day of the accident for the Ride the Ducks attraction on Table Rock Lake, near the tourist mecca of Branson, per the AP. The charges against captain Kenneth Scott McKee, GM Curtis Lanham, and manager on duty Charles Baltzell came seven months after a federal judge dismissed charges filed by federal prosecutors, concluding they didn't have jurisdiction. McKee faces 29 charges, including 17 charges of first-degree involuntary manslaughter.

An affidavit from a Missouri State Highway Patrol sergeant accuses McKee of failing to exercise his duties as a licensed captain by taking his amphibious vehicle onto the lake during a thunderstorm. Baltzell and Lanham face 17 charges each of first-degree involuntary manslaughter. They're accused of failing to communicate weather conditions and to cease operations during a severe thunderstorm warning. Thirty-one people were aboard when the duck boat entered the lake. A storm came up suddenly, and the waves swamped the boat before it could make it back to shore. Fourteen people survived. The dead included nine members of one family from Indianapolis.

(Read more duck boat stories.)

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