Manslaughter charges in deadly duck boat sinking

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Stretch Duck 7 being removed from Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, July 23, 2018

Missouri has brought state charges of involuntary manslaughter against three men in relation to the 2018 sinking of a duck boat in Branson, Mo., in which 17 people lost their lives.

The three had earlier faced federal criminal charges, however those indictments were brought under admiralty law and were dismissed after U.S. Magistrate Judge David Rush concluded that Table Rock Lake is not considered a navigable waterway under admiralty law. He also recommended the case should be prosecuted at the state level rather than in a federal court.

On Friday, Stone County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Selby and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced charges against Kenneth Scott McKee, Charles Baltzell, and Curtis Lanham in relation to the sinking.

According to the probable cause statement, on the afternoon of July 19, 2018, the vessel that sank, Stretch Duck #7, entered Table Rock Lake during a severe thunderstorm warning, encountered severe weather and rough winds, took on water and eventually sank, resulting in the death of 17 people.

The statement alleges that Scott McKee, the captain of Stretch Boat #7, failed to exercise his duties as a licensed captain by entering the lake during a severe thunderstorm warning, and failed to follow policies and training by not having passengers affix flotation devices as the boat took on water. The statement also alleges that Charles Baltzell, as operations supervisor of Ride the Ducks Branson and Curtis Lanham, as General Manager, failed to communicate weather conditions and cease operations during a severe thunderstorm warning.

  • McKee was charged with 17 counts of First Degree Involuntary Manslaughter, a Class C Felony, 5 counts of First Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a Class A felony, and 7 counts of First Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a Class D felony.
  • Baltzell was charged with 17 counts of First Degree Involuntary Manslaughter, a Class C Felony.
  • Lanham was charged with 17 counts of First Degree Involuntary Manslaughter, a Class C Felony.

In total, 63 charges were filed against the three defendants.

The felony complaint can be found here:

The statement of probable cause can be found here:

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