Kenneth Scott McKee, the boat’s captain, worked for the now-defunct company “Ride the Ducks Branson”, which was charged with 29 counts of aggravated manslaughter, including 17 counts of first-degree homicide.
Charles Baltsel, who served as the company’s operational supervisor, has been charged with 17 counts of first-degree arbitrary manslaughter.
Curtis Lanham, who served as general manager, was the first to report 17 counts of arbitrary homicide.
The charges stem from the dangerous sinking of a duck boat – a diabetic vehicle traveling on land and water – on Table Rock Lake near the popular family vacation spot Branson. Seventeen people, including children, were killed when the boat capsized with severe thunder.
McKee’s lawyers told CNN that they expect their client not to be guilty of the 29 charges.
“We are reviewing the charges, expect not to be convicted, and will continue to represent Mr. McKee,” attorneys J.R. Hobbes and Marilyn b. Keller said.
According to the probable cause report, an “investigation later determined” that the duck boat “entered Table Rock Lake as part of their Ride Dux tour … during a severe thunderstorm alert.”
“McKee drove the duck into the air” and the duck boat gradually caught water in several minutes, eventually turning into a swamp behind Branson Bell, where it sank about 50 feet into the water, first hardening, down the lake, the probable cause report says.
“Captain McKee failed to perform 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 which passengers failed to carry personal floating equipment Stretch Duck 7. Water,” the probable cause statement said.
Baltzel’s “duties include monitoring the weather and communicating with duck vehicles about the upcoming weather”, and “he failed in these duties on the date of the incident, which was a factor in the incident and subsequent deaths,” the statement said.
Lanham said he was “responsible for managing the overall day-to-day operations” and that he “failed to stop the operation of the ride ducks as the severe weather approached, which included lightning, heavy rain and high winds. These activities had a contributing factor to the incident and subsequent deaths,” according to the possible cause report.
“We continue to co-operate with all investigations into the sudden and severe storm known as Terego, which struck Table Rock Lake in July 2018,” Stone County attorney Stone County said in a statement. Despite the allegations, all of the accused have the right to a strong presumption of innocence beyond a reasonable doubt until proven guilty. We will continue to support this process as our current and former employees move forward. ”
CNN contacted Lanham and Baltselin’s lawyers, but did not immediately return a call.
Lanham’s attorney, Tom Bath, told the Kansas City Star, “Although this is a tragedy, we do not believe any of the accused committed any criminal conduct and intend to fight the matter in state and federal courts.”
Baltsell’s attorney, Justin Johnston, told the Kansas City Star that his client was “innocent of all of these charges and would like to include a plea that we’re not guilty and should actively compete with them.” It was a tragic accident that happened once – a generational storm and he is not guilty of what he was accused of. ”