Three Men Charged in 2018 Missouri Duck Boat Accident

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The skipper and 2 different employees of a circuit vessel institution were charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter successful the sinking. Seventeen people, including a household and respective children, were killed erstwhile it sank.

A unit  utilizing a barge and a crane to propulsion  the sunken duck vessel  to the aboveground  of Table Rock Lake, adjacent   Branson, Mo., successful  2018.
Credit...Rich Sugg/The Kansas City Star, via Associated Press

Johnny Diaz

July 16, 2021, 2:43 p.m. ET

Three employees of a Missouri circuit vessel institution were charged with felony transgression charges implicit a 2018 mishap that killed 17 radical connected a lake, prosecutors said connected Friday, bringing caller charges successful 1 of the deadliest accidents involving a circuit vessel successful U.S. history.

The 3 employees, Kenneth Scott McKee, Charles Baltzell and Curtis Lanham, were charged with a full of 63 counts successful narration to the sinking of the duck boat, Missouri’s lawyer general, Eric Schmitt, and a Stone County prosecutor, Matt Selby, said successful a statement connected Friday.

Mr. McKee, 54, was the captain, Mr. Lanham, 38, was the wide manager and Mr. Baltzell, 79, was the manager connected work connected the duck boat, a vas modeled aft the amphibious trucks utilized successful World War II to determination connected onshore and water.

They were each charged with 17 counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter, and Mr. McKee besides faces respective charges of first-degree endangering the payment of a child.

Justin Johnston, a lawyer for Mr. Baltzell, said connected Friday that his lawsuit “intends to vigorously contention these charges successful court.” He added, “This mishap was caused by a uncommon upwind event, and the tragic deaths of the passengers were not the effect of transgression behaviour by anyone.”

J. R. Hobbs and Marilyn B. Keller, lawyers for Mr. McKee, said successful a statement, “We are reviewing the charges, expect that not blameworthy pleas volition beryllium entered and volition proceed to vigorously correspond Mr. McKee.”

A lawyer for Mr. Lanham did not instantly respond to a petition for remark connected Friday.

The 3 men worked for the circuit vessel institution Ride the Ducks Branson. A spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment, which acquired the duck vessel cognition successful 2017, said successful a connection connected Friday that the institution continues “to cooperate with all investigations into the abrupt and terrible tempest known arsenic a derecho that struck Table Rock Lake successful July of 2018, resulting successful a tragic accident.”

She added, “while the Stone County Prosecutor has brought transgression charges arsenic a effect of the accident, each persons charged are entitled to a beardown presumption of innocence until proven blameworthy beyond a tenable doubt.”

The caller transgression charges travel aft a national justice had dismissed neglect and misconduct charges against the 3 employees past December.

The 17 radical who died erstwhile the vessel sank, connected the day of July 19, 2018, included a household of nine and respective children. The boat, Stretch Duck 7, was connected Table Rock Lake during a terrible thunderstorm informing successful the region, and terrible upwind and unsmooth winds struck the lake.

Cellphone video from a witnesser showed the vessel taking connected h2o and struggling to determination arsenic fierce waves struck the vessel.

The National Weather Service’s bureau successful Springfield, Mo., had issued a terrible thunderstorm informing astatine 6:32 p.m. for confederate Missouri, including Table Rock Lake, astir 35 minutes earlier the authorities received the archetypal calls astir the sinking boat. Wind gusts of up to 75 miles per hr were reported successful the area, followed by dense rainfall and lightning.

A probable origin statement accused Mr. McKee, who had 16 years of acquisition connected the lake, of failing to workout his duties arsenic a licensed skipper by entering the water during the terrible thunderstorm informing and failed to travel policies and grooming by not having passengers deterioration flotation devices arsenic the vessel took connected water.

Mr. Baltzell and Mr. Lanham, according to the statement, besides failed to pass upwind conditions and cease operations during a terrible thunderstorm warning.

Because the vas had a debased profile, it took connected h2o “over the people of respective minutes,” the connection said. The vessel sank into astir 50 feet of h2o successful the bottommost of the lake.

“It rolled successful an upright position, southwest, on the bottommost of the lake, to a last presumption successful astir 85 feet of water,” according to the statement.

In all, the vessel carried 29 passengers — including 12 children — the skipper and a unit subordinate connected committee erstwhile it sank, according to the probable origin statement. A unit member, whose occupation was to thrust the conveyance erstwhile it moved onto land, and 16 passengers were killed.

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