Three former tour company employees were slammed Friday with multiple counts of manslaughter and endangerment following the drowning of 17 people on Table Rock Lake.
An amphibious duck boat vehicle owned by the now-defunct tour company, “Ride the Ducks Branson,” sank in Table Rock Lake on July 19, 2018, due to a thunderstorm that led to strong winds, the New York Times reported.
Captain Kenneth McKee, general manager Curtis Lanham and operations supervisor Charles Baltzell are faced with a total of 63 felony counts of manslaughter and endangerment, CNN reported.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Master Sergeant Mark Green released a probable cause statement detailing that the craft had 29 passengers at the time of the tragedy. (RELATED: 2 Students Dead After Boat Capsizes During Rowing Practice)
“There were 29 passengers, one Captain and one (road) Driver (drives Duck on-road only), onboard, when it sank. A total of 12 children, under the age of 17 were on board. The (road) driver and 16 passengers perished. Of the 17 victims that died, 5 of those were children.” Green’s statement read.
“Captain McKee failed to exercise his duties and responsibilities as a licensed captain, by entering the lake during a severe thunderstorm warning. He did not follow policy or training guidelines in that he failed to have passengers don personal floatation devices as Stretch Duck 7 took on water,” Green added
McKee is facing 17 counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter as well as 12 counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child, Reuters reported.
McKee’s attorneys, J.R. Hobbs and Marilyn B. Keller told CNN, “We are reviewing the charges, anticipate not guilty pleas will be entered and will continue to vigorously represent Mr. McKee.” (RELATED: Missouri Accident Is Not The First Time That A Duck Boat Ride Has Turned Fatal)
Baltzell and Lanham face 17 counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter for failing to warn drivers of the bad weather and failing to suspend tours even though thunderstorm warnings had been issued, Fox59 reported.
3 men charged over a July 2018 tourist boat accident on a Missouri lake that killed 17 people. https://t.co/TFkpx1kSGg
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 16, 2021
“Although this was a tragedy, we do not believe that any of those charged committed any criminal conduct and intend to fight the matter in both state and federal court,” said Lanham’s attorney, Tom Bath, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Baltzell’s attorney, Justin Johnston, reiterated on Friday that his client is innocent and “intends to contest these charges in court vigorously, the New York Times reported.