sunny.png
Sunday August 18th, 2019 1:18PM

2 more duck boat workers indicted in sinking that killed 17

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted two more employees of a company that owns a duck boat that sank on a Missouri lake last summer, killing 17 people.

Curtis Lanham, the general manager at Ride the Ducks Branson, and Charles Baltzell, the operations supervisor, were charged with misconduct and neglect in a 47-count indictment that was unsealed and made public Thursday following their initial court appearances, the U.S. attorney's office said.

The boat's captain, Kenneth Scott McKee, of Verona, was indicted previously on charges alleging that he failed to properly assess the weather and failed to tell passengers to don flotation devices as conditions worsened. The amphibious vehicle the 51-year-old was piloting sank July 19, 2018, at Table Rock Lake near Branson after it entered the lake despite severe weather warnings. Riders from Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and Arkansas were killed; 14 people survived the sinking.

According to the indictment, Baltzell, 76, of Kirbyville, got onto the duck boat before it departed and directed McKee to conduct the water portion of the excursion before the land tour because of the approaching storm. At no point after that did Baltzell or Lanham communicate with McKee about the growing intensity of the storm, including that wind gusts of 70 mph were predicted, the indictment said. Rules barred the boat from operating on the water when winds exceeded 35 mph.

Baltzell, who was responsible for dispatching to the boat while tours were underway, wasn't even on the same floor as the weather radar viewing screens are located because he was conducting closing duties, the indictment said. At one point Baltzell communicated with Lanham, who was himself on a tour, about the fact that McKee's Stretch Duck 7 tour was conducting the water portion of the tour first. Lanham, 36, of Galena, replied, "Good it's dark right now," the indictment said.

Lanham also is accused in the indictment of failing to establish training and policies for monitoring for severe weather and allowed others responsible for monitoring weather to be distracted by other duties. The indictment said Lanham helped create "a work atmosphere on Stretch Duck 7 and other duck boats where the concern for profit overshadowed the concern for safety."

Phone and email messages seeking comment from attorneys for Lanham and Baltzell were not immediately returned.

Ripley Entertainment spokeswoman Suzanne Smagala-Potts said the Orlando, Florida-based company is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney's office and other agencies investigating the incident. The company suspended operation of the boats after the sinking and opened a replacement entertainment attraction this year.

"We are committed to doing everything we can to help and support the community of Branson and those impacted by this accident," Smagala-Potts said in a statement. "While the United States Attorney has decided to bring criminal charges as a result of the accident, all persons charged are entitled to a strong presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We have and will continue to offer support for all of our employees as this process moves forward."

Smagala-Potts said Ripley continues to work with the surviving victims and relatives of those killed "and have reached settlement agreements with many individuals and families, and we continue to work with others."

___

Salter reported from St. Louis.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Careers, AP Business - Corporate News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Storms bring tornadoes, floods, power outages across the US
Potent thunderstorms have been blamed for one death and left more than 200,000 people without power across the southern United States _ and fierce winds are expected to wallop parts of several states as new storms form Thursday
6:10PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Witness at Navy SEAL trial: I killed victim out of mercy
A Navy SEAL called by prosecutors to testify at the murder trial of a colleague has acknowledged killing the victim in what he described as an act of mercy
6:07PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Governor sends police after GOP senators who fled Capitol
"Come heavily armed:" Oregon Gov. Kate Brown deployed the state police Thursday to try to round up Republican lawmakers who fled the Capitol in an attempt to block a vote on a landmark climate plan
5:58PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Roy Moore announces he'll run for US Senate again in 2020
Alabama Republican Roy Moore has announced he is running for U.S. Senate again in 2020 after failing to win the seat two years ago amid sexual misconduct accusations
5:41PM ( 38 minutes ago )
The Latest: Dems demand input on US action against Iran
Top Democrats are warning President Donald Trump that he would need authorization from Congress before launching military action against Iran
5:34PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Man's serial killer boast doubted in Chinese scholar case
There are reasons to doubt a boast from a man charged with killing a visiting scholar from China that he killed 12 other people
5:32PM ( 47 minutes ago )
AP National News
Slack shows up for work and rallies in Wall Street debut
Shares of work messaging platform Slack rose after it started trading under the ticker "WORK."
5:31PM ( 49 minutes ago )
UK Treasury chief issues stiff 'no-deal' Brexit warning
Britain's Treasury chief is urging Conservative Party leadership contenders to be honest with the public and spell out what they would do if their plans for departure from the European Union falter
5:20PM ( 59 minutes ago )
S&P 500 index closes at record high as stock rally continues
Wall Street capped a broad rally for stocks by driving the S&P 500 index to an all-time high
5:02PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Amy Poehler, Issa Rae recognized for their entrepreneurship
Amy Poehler, Issa Rae honored for their entrepreneurship at Hollywood event celebrating women
3:29AM ( 1 week ago )
Nevada law prevents most employers from rejecting pot-users
Nevada law will prevent job-seekers from being immediately rejected for work based on a positive marijuana test
6:44PM ( 1 week ago )
Some rural states double down on attracting new residents
Some rural areas double down on incentives to attract new residents
5:09PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Business - Careers
The Latest: Slack becomes latest tech company to go public
Shares of work messaging platform Slack have begun trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "WORK."
12:52PM ( 5 hours ago )
Slack is latest tech company to go public, with a twist
Shares of work messaging platform Slack rose after it started trading under the ticker "WORK."
12:48PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP-NORC poll: Asteroid watch more urgent than Mars trip
AP-NORC poll released a month before the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing finds Americans prefer focus on tracking potential asteroid threats
12:30PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Storms bring tornadoes, floods, power outages across the US
Potent thunderstorms have been blamed for one death and left more than 200,000 people without power across the southern United States _ and fierce winds are expected to wallop parts of several states as new storms form Thursday
6:10PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Witness at Navy SEAL trial: I killed victim out of mercy
A Navy SEAL called by prosecutors to testify at the murder trial of a colleague has acknowledged killing the victim in what he described as an act of mercy
6:07PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Governor sends police after GOP senators who fled Capitol
"Come heavily armed:" Oregon Gov. Kate Brown deployed the state police Thursday to try to round up Republican lawmakers who fled the Capitol in an attempt to block a vote on a landmark climate plan
5:58PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Oregon gov. sends police after GOP senators who fled Capitol
"Come heavily armed:" Oregon Gov. Kate Brown deployed the state police Thursday to try to round up Republican lawmakers who fled the Capitol in an attempt to block a vote on a landmark climate plan
5:56PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Plot that wounded Ortiz unraveled because of many mistakes
The plot that resulted in baseball superstar David Ortiz getting shot in the back unraveled within hours, mostly because the crew of hired killers made so many mistakes
5:53PM ( 27 minutes ago )