The captain of a World War II era duck boat and two other employees at Ride the Ducks Branson have been hit with criminal charges in relation to the sinking of the Stretch Duck 7 on Missouri’s Table Rock Lake in 2018, resulting in the death of 17 people. The Missouri attorney general’s office announced a total of 63 charges against Scott McKee, the boat’s Captain, and Operations Supervisor Charles Baltzell and General Manager Curtis Lanham.
According to a probable cause statement, the Stretch Duck 7 was under the command of McKee when it entered Table Rock Lake on July 19, 2018 during a severe thunderstorm warning and later encountered severe weather and rough winds, causing the boat to take on water and sink. Seventeen people died in the accident, including 16 passengers and one crew member.
The probable cause statement alleges that Scott McKee, the Captain of Stretch Boat 7, 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.
Watch the U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison announce the 17-count indictment of Kenneth Scott McKee in Springfield.
McKee was charged with 17 counts of First Degree Involuntary Manslaughter, a Class C Felony, 5 counts of First Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a Class A felony, and 7 counts of First Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a Class D felony. Baltzell and Lanham were each charged with 17 counts of First Degree Involuntary Manslaughter, a Class C Felony.
An NTSB investigation into the accident found the operator failed to heed a severe thunderstorm warning, and also noted hazards such as fixed canopies and the Coast Guard’s failure to require sufficient reserve buoyancy in “duck boats” as contributing to the accident.