New charges filed in deadly Missouri duck boat sinking that killed 9 members of Indy family, 8 others

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A duck boat that sank in Branson, Missouri, is raised out of the water in July 2018.

STONE COUNTY, Mo.– New criminal charges were announced Friday in connection with the 2018 duck boat sinking in Missouri that killed 17 people, including nine members of an Indianapolis family.

Ride the Ducks Branson employees Kenneth Scott McKee, Charles Baltzell and Curtis Lanham are now facing a total of 63 felony charges in this case.

  • Captain Kenneth Scott McKee: 17 counts of first degree involuntary manslaughter (Class C felony), five counts of first degree endangering the welfare of a child (Class A felony), seven counts of first degree endangering the welfare of a child (Class D felony)
  • Operations Supervisor Charles Baltzell: 17 counts of first degree involuntary manslaughter (Class C felony)
  • General Manager Curtis Lanham: 17 counts of first degree involuntary manslaughter (Class C felony)

The boat had entered the lake on July, 19, 2018, despite severe weather warnings. The boat eventually sunk. Riders from Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and Arkansas were killed; 14 people survived.

Among the deceased are nine family members from the Indianapolis area, including four children.

  • 45-year-old Angela Coleman
  • 1-year-old Arya Coleman
  • 69-year-old Belinda Coleman
  • 76-year-old Ervin Coleman
  • 7-year-old Evan Coleman
  • 40-year-old Glenn Coleman
  • 70-year-old Horace Coleman
  • 2-year-old Maxwelll Coleman
  • 9-year-old Reece Coleman

Court documents say McKee failed to exercise his duties as a licensed captain by entering the lake during a severe thunderstorm warning, and failed to follow policies and training by not having passengers affix floatation devices as the boat took on water.

Baltzell and Lanham are accused of failing to communicate weather conditions and cease operations during the weather warning.

In Dec. 2020, a federal judge dismissed charges against the employees, upholding a previous decision that the federal government did not have jurisdiction over the case because Table Rock Lake is not considered a navigable waterway, which means it doesn’t support commerce.

Ripley Entertainment, which owned the former World War II vehicle, settled 31 lawsuits related to the sinking. The boats, once a popular draw in the southwest Missouri tourist town, have not returned to the lake since the sinking.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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