A duck boat operated by Ride the Ducks sank on Table Rock Lake in 2018. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

A judge in Stone County on Tuesday dismissed criminal charges against three Ride the Ducks Branson employees in connection to their roles in the 2018 tragedy on Table Rock Lake in which 17 people — nine in the same Indiana family — drowned after the amphibious boat they were in capsized and sank in bad weather.

Those charged were Captain Kenneth Scott McKee, operations supervisor Charles Baltzell and general manager Curtis Lanham.

The three had been charged in state court last July each with 17 counts of involuntary manslaughter. McKee also faced endangering the welfare of a child charges.

Each count of involuntary manslaughter had a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, however, the endangering the welfare of child charges for McKee carried possible life sentences. 

The judge had been deliberating since December whether to let the case head to trial.

Prosecutors argued the men were negligent in letting the ride take place as severe weather approached.

For a fuller account of the judge’s decision, read this story in the Springfield News-Leader.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin