Branson Duck Boat criminal charges: Three employees facing numerous manslaughter counts

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BRANSON, Mo. — Prosecutors charge three employees of Ride the Ducks Branson in connection with a deadly sinking on Table Rock Lake three years ago.

There were 29 passengers, the Captain and the Driver on the boat when it sank, killing 17 people.

Prosecutors charged Scott McKee, the Captain of the boat, with 17 counts of First Degree Involuntary Manslaughter. McKee is also charged with five counts of First Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child and seven counts of First Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Prosecutors also charged Charles Baltzell, Operations Supervisor and Manager on Duty for Branson Duck Boats, and Curtis Lanham, the company’s General Manager. Each man faces 17 counts of First Degree Involuntary Manslaughter.

The probable cause statement accused McKee of failing to exercise his duties as a licensed captain. Court documents allege he entered the lake during a severe thunderstorm warning, and failed to follow policies and training by not having passengers wear life vests as the boat took on water.

Court documents say Baltzell was responsible for the daily operations of the Duck Boats, including monitoring weather and communicating with the Duck vehicles about impending weather.

The probable cause statement say Lanham was responsible for the overall day-to-day management of
operations for Ride the Ducks Branson.

Prosecutors claims Baltzell and Lanham failed to communicate weather conditions and the two men should have stopped operations during the severe thunderstorm warning.

The three men will be arraigned on the charges September 9, 2021 at 9 a.m. in Stone County Court.

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