19 Jul 2021
Missouri has laid manslaughter charges against three men in connection with the 2018 duck sinking in Branson, Missouri, in which 17 people were killed.
The three men had previously faced federal criminal charges, but those indictments were filed under admiralty law and were dismissed after U.S. trial judge David Rush found Table Rock Lake is not considered a waterway under admiralty law. He also recommended that the case be pursued at the state level rather than in federal court.
Stone County District Attorney Matt Selby and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced charges against Kenneth Scott McKee, Charles Baltzell and Curtis Lanham in connection with the sinking on Friday.
According to the statement of probable causes, on the afternoon of July 19, 2018, the sinking ship, Stretch duck # 7, entered Table Rock Lake during a severe thunderstorm warning, encountered severe weather and high winds, took on water and eventually sank, killing 17 people.
The statement alleges that Scott McKee, the captain of the Extendable boat # 7, failed to perform his duties as licensed master upon entering the lake during a severe thunderstorm warning, and failed to follow policies and training by not requiring passengers to affix flotation devices while the boat was taking on water. The statement also alleges that Charles Baltzell, as Ride the Ducks Branson’s operations supervisor and Curtis Lanham, as general manager, failed to report weather conditions and ceased operations amid a severe thunderstorm warning. .
- McKee was charged with 17 counts of first degree manslaughter, a class C felony, 5 first degree counts endangering the well-being of a child, a class A felony and 7 counts of first degree charge endangering the well-being of a child, a class D felony.
- Baltzell was charged with 17 counts of first degree manslaughter, a Class C felony.
- Lanham was charged with 17 counts of first degree manslaughter, a Class C felony.
A total of 63 charges were laid against the three accused.
The felony complaint can be found here:
The probable cause statement can be found here: