Criminal Charges Filed Nearly 3 Years After Duck Boat Tragedy


Stone County Attorney General Matt Selby and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Friday announced criminal charges against Ride the Ducks Branson employees Kenneth Scott McKee, Charles Baltzell and Curtis Lanham, in connection with the Stretch Boat # 7 sank on Table Rock Lake in July. July 19, 2018, which killed 17 people. According to the probable cause statement, on the afternoon of July 19, 2018, Stretch Boat No.7 entered Table Rock Lake during a severe thunderstorm warning, encountered severe weather conditions and winds. violent, took on water and eventually sank, killing 17 people. The probable cause statement alleges that Scott McKee, the captain of Stretch Boat No. 7, failed to perform his duties as authorized captain by entering the lake during a severe thunderstorm warning and did not follow policies and training by not requiring passengers to affix flotation devices. as the boat took on water. The statement also alleges that Charles Baltzell, as operations supervisor, and Curtis Lanham, as general manager, failed to report weather conditions and ceased operations during a severe thunderstorm warning.[ READ PROBABLE CAUSE STATEMENT I READ DUCK BOATS COMPLAINT ]McKee was charged with 17 counts of first degree manslaughter, a class C felony, five counts of first degree endangering the well-being of a child, a class A felony and of seven counts of endangering a child in the first degree, a class D felony Baltzell was charged with 17 counts of first degree manslaughter, a class C felony. Related Video: Sister from duck victim: ‘I called his phone 63 times’General Curtis Lanham has been charged with 17 counts of first degree manslaughter, a Class C felony. A total of 63 charges were filed against the three accused. “We look forward to taking our case to court,” Schmitt said in a statement. “The victims deserve justice. Child endangerment charges laid for death are the most serious, carrying 10 to 30 years in prison. Endangerment charges involving children who survived the crash carry a sentence of up to seven years. “We are reviewing the charges, are waiting for not guilty pleas to be entered and will continue to vigorously represent Mr. McKee,” JR Hobbs and Marilyn B. Keller, who represent the captain, said in a statement. Lawyers for Baltzell and Lanham did not immediately respond to a phone message asking for comment. Each manslaughter charge alleges the men “recklessly caused” the death of a passenger. Missouri law provides for a prison sentence ranging from three to 10 years for a conviction on this charge. Thirty-one people were on board when the duck entered the lake. A storm suddenly arose and the waves overwhelmed the boat before it could reach shore. Video and audio of the boat, retrieved by divers, showed the lake to be calm when the boat entered the water. But the weather suddenly turned violent. In a few minutes, the boat sank. Highway Patrol Sgt. Mark Green said in his affidavit that McKee failed to perform his duties and responsibilities by going to the lake with the Stretch Boat 7, with a severe thunderstorm warning in effect. “He did not follow training policy or guidelines in that he did not require passengers to wear personal flotation devices when Stretch Duck 7 took on the water,” Green said. The wind speed at the time of the accident was above 70 mph (113 km / h). , just below the force of a hurricane, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The weather forecast had warned of an impending storm with winds of up to 60 mph (97 km / h). A US Coast Guard inspection certificate for the boat issued in February 2017 stated that it “should not be used by water” when winds exceed 35 mph and / or wave heights exceed 2 feet. Green’s affidavit said that Baltzell’s failure to communicate with the ducks about the weather and Lanham’s failure to cease operations “contributed to the incident and the deaths that followed. In April 2020, the National Transportation Safety Board released the findings of its investigation into the tragedy. Among the documents released by the NTSB was a letter dated April 15 in which Daniel Abel, Vice Admiral of the Coast Guard, said the Guard agreed with a recommendation from the NTSB to modify vehicles like the one that sank. in Missouri. “Removing the awnings, side curtains and associated frame from the DUKW fleet would improve emergency exits,” the report said. The Coast Guard has said it will issue a maritime safety newsletter, the first step in the process. The NTSB reiterated Coast Guard criticisms it released in November, saying the agency ignored its recommendations to improve boats since a duck accident. Arkansas killed 13 people in 1999. The board said it has repeatedly urged the Coast Guard to demand that boats be leveled to stay afloat when inundated and qu ‘they remove obstacles to escape, such as awnings. Boat owner Ripley Entertainment has settled more than 30 lawsuits from survivors or relatives of those who have died. The dead included nine members of one Indianapolis family. Other victims came from Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Stone County Attorney General Matt Selby and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Friday announced criminal charges against Ride the Ducks Branson employees Kenneth Scott McKee, Charles Baltzell and Curtis Lanham, in connection with the Stretch Boat # 7 sank on Table Rock Lake in July. on September 19, 2018, which left 17 people dead.

According to statement of probable cause, on the afternoon of July 19, 2018, Stretch Boat # 7 entered Table Rock Lake during a severe thunderstorm warning, encountered severe weather conditions and high winds, took on water and eventually sank, killing 17 people.

the statement of probable cause alleges that Scott McKee, captain of Stretch Boat No. 7, failed to perform his duties as licensed captain by 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 is taking on the water.

the declaration also alleges that Charles Baltzell, as operations supervisor, and Curtis Lanham, as general manager, failed to report weather conditions and cease operations during a severe thunderstorm warning.

[ READ PROBABLE CAUSE STATEMENT I READ DUCK BOATS COMPLAINT ]

McKee was charged with 17 counts of first degree manslaughter, a class C felony, five counts of first degree endangering the well-being of a child, a class A felony and of seven counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, a class D crime.

Baltzell was charged with 17 counts of first degree manslaughter, a Class C felony.

Related video: Sister of a duck victim: “I called her phone 63 times”

General Manager Curtis Lanham has been charged with 17 counts of first degree manslaughter, a Class C felony.

A total of 63 charges were laid against the three accused.

“We look forward to taking our case to court,” Schmitt said in a statement. “The victims deserve justice.

Child endangerment charges laid for death are the most serious, carrying 10 to 30 years in prison. Endangerment charges involving children who survived the crash carry a sentence of up to seven years.

“We are reviewing the charges, are waiting for not guilty pleas to be entered and will continue to vigorously represent Mr. McKee,” JR Hobbs and Marilyn B. Keller, who represent the captain, said in a statement.

Lawyers for Baltzell and Lanham did not immediately respond to a phone message asking for comment.

Each manslaughter charge alleges the men “recklessly caused” the death of a passenger. Missouri law provides for a prison sentence ranging from three to 10 years for a conviction on this charge.

Thirty-one people were on board when the duck entered the lake. A storm suddenly arose and the waves overwhelmed the boat before it could reach shore.

Video and audio of the boat, retrieved by divers, showed the lake to be calm when the boat entered the water. But the weather suddenly turned violent. In a few minutes, the boat sank.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Mark Green said in his affidavit that McKee failed to perform his duties and responsibilities by going to the lake with the Stretch Boat 7, with a severe thunderstorm warning in effect.

“He did not follow training policy or guidelines in that he did not require passengers to wear personal flotation devices when Stretch Duck 7 took on the water,” Green said.

The wind speed at the time of the accident was over 70 mph (113 km / h), just below the force of a hurricane, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The weather forecast had warned of an impending storm with winds of up to 60 mph (97 km / h).

A US Coast Guard inspection certificate for the boat issued in February 2017 stated that it “should not be used on the water” when winds exceed 35 mph and / or wave heights exceed 2 feet .

Green’s affidavit said that Baltzell’s failure to communicate with the ducks about the weather and Lanham’s failure to cease operations “contributed to the incident and the deaths that followed.”

In April 2020, the National Transportation Safety Board released the findings of its investigation into the tragedy.

Among the documents released by the NTSB was a letter dated April 15 in which Daniel Abel, Vice Admiral of the Coast Guard, said the guard agreed with a recommendation from the NTSB to modify vehicles like the one that sank. in Missouri.

“Removing the awnings, side curtains and associated frame from the DUKW fleet would improve emergency exits,” the report said. The Coast Guard has said it will issue a maritime safety newsletter, the first step in the process.

The NTSB reiterated Coast Guard criticisms it issued in November, saying the agency had ignored its recommendations to improve boats since a duck crash in Arkansas killed 13 people in 1999.

The board said it has repeatedly urged the Coast Guard to require boats to be leveled to stay afloat when inundated and remove obstacles to escape, such as awnings.

The owner of the boat, Ripley Entertainment, has settled more than 30 lawsuits brought by survivors or relatives of those who have died. The dead included nine members of one Indianapolis family. The other victims were from Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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