July 17 (UPI) — Three men formerly employed by a “duck boat” company whose vessel sank, killing 17 people in 2018, face manslaughter charges associated with the incident, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office announced Friday.
The captain of the boat, Kenneth Scott McKee, was charged with 17 counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and 12 counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Operations supervisor Charles Baltzell and general manager Curtis Lanham also each face 17 counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter.
The men previously faced similar federal charges, but a judge dismissed the case in 2020, citing jurisdiction problems.
McKee was piloting a tourist duck boat July 20, 2018, on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo., when it became caught in a thunderstorm with severe winds. The vessel capsized, drowning 17 people, including children.
Duck boats, popular tourist attractions, are capable of navigating on land and water.
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office said McKee “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 and Curtis Lanham as general manager failed to communicate weather conditions and cease operations during a severe thunderstorm warning.”