3 years after 17 died, Branson Duck Boat employees charged in Table Rock Lake drowning deaths

National / World

BRANSON, Mo. (KNWA/KFTA) — Three employees of Ride the Ducks Branson are facing charges in relation to the 2018 sinking of a Duck Boat on Table Rock Lake, which resulted in the deaths of 17 passengers.

According to a release from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Friday, employees Kenneth Scott McKee, Charles Baltzell, and Curtis Lanham face 63 total charges in connection to the sinking of Stretch Duck #7.

According to a probable cause statement, on July 19, 2018, Stretch Duck #7 entered Table Rock Lake during a severe thunderstorm warning, encountered severe weather and rough winds, and took on water before eventually sinking, resulting in the deaths of 17 people.

Angela Coleman, 45, Arya Coleman, 1, Belinda Coleman, 69, Ervin Coleman, 76, Evan Coleman, 7, Glenn Coleman, 40, Horace Coleman, 70, Maxwell Coleman-Ly, 2, Indianapolis, Ind., and Reece Coleman, 9, all of Indianapolis, Ind.; William Asher, 69, of St. Louis, Mo.; Rosemarie Hamann, 68, of St. Louis Mo.; Janice Bright, 63, and William Bright, 65, both of Higginsville, Mo.; Leslie Dennison, 64, Illinois; Bob Williams, 73, Branson; and Steve Smith, 53, and Lance Smith, 15, both of Osceola, Ark, lost their lives in the incident.

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.”

It also alleges that Charles Baltzell, in his capacity as operations supervisor, and Curtis Lanham as General Manager “failed to communicate weather conditions and cease operations during a severe thunderstorm warning.”

McKee is charged with 17 counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter, a Class C felony, five counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child, a Class A felony, and seven counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child, a Class D felony.

Baltzell and Lanham were both charged with 17 counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter, a Class C felony.

An arraignment date is set for September 9, 2021, at 9 a.m.

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