GALENA, Mo. — A judge decided to dismiss the charges against three people who were charged after the deadly sinking of a Duck Boat in 2018.
The three people were operators of a duck boat that sank in stormy weather on Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri.
Kenneth Scott McKee, Curtis Lanham and Charles Baltzell were facing several felony counts over the duck boat tragedy.
Tuesday, Judge Alan Blankenship dismissed all charges for each individual due to the court’s lack of evidence that the operators knowingly risked the lives of the passengers.
A local prosecutor charged the three over 17 deaths in July 2018 when the boat sank during a thunderstorm. The trio faced a combined 63 felony charges.
Both definitions of “reckless” and “knowingly” require the defendants have knowledge of the risk. This was the issue in this case. The risk was the effect of high winds on boat operations and passenger safety. According to court documents, the judge decided there is no evidence that the defendants were aware of high winds in advance of the storm.
The judge states whether they could or should have known about the high winds by relying on other sources of weather information was not relevant to the charges.
Judge Blankenship released the following statement:
“This court feels great sadness for this needless loss of life and the impact on the victims’ family and friends. However, because the court does not find sufficient evidence to support the men’s rea or intent required for the charges at issue, as defined by Missouri law, the court dismisses each count against each defendant. The case is dismissed without prejudice.”
Among the dead were nine members of a family from Indianapolis and victims from Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas.
Thirty-one people were aboard when the duck boat entered the lake. A storm came up suddenly and the waves swamped the boat before it could make it back to shore. Fourteen people survived.