Judge dismisses federal charges against Stretch Duck 7 trio

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(SPRINGFIELD, Mo.) — A judge has dismissed federal charges against three men connected to a duck boat tragedy in 2018 in which 17 people drowned in Table Rock Lake, the Branson Tri Lakes News reported.

Kenneth Scott McKee, Curtis P. Lanham and Charles V. Baltzell had all been charged as part of a 47-count indictment in connection with the sinking of Stretch Duck 7. McKee, who was the captain, was originally charged in 2018.

However, on Dec. 3, a federal judge ruled that the charges be dismissed because the court did not have jurisdiction due to the fact that Table Rock Lake is not a navigable waterway under admiralty law. A navigable waterway is one that can used for commercial shipping, but under court precedent, Table Rock Lake is exclusively for recreational activity.

Lanham was general manager for the boat operator, Ride the Ducks Branson. Baltzell was the operations manager.

The vessel sank in Table Rock Lake on July 19, 2018 when a strong storm, known as a derecho, hit the lake, causing high winds and rough water. Of 31 people on board, 17 died.

The ruling did say that the defendants could potentially face criminal prosecution in state court.

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By Professional Mariner Staff