All charges dismissed against Missouri duck boat employees involved in fatal 2018 capsizing

A Missouri circuit court judge on Tuesday dismissed all criminal charges against three tour boat employees involved in the 2018 duck boat sinking near Branson, 密苏里州, 那离开 17 人死了, 根据法院文件.

Judge Alan Blankenship wrote the court did not find probable cause the defendants actedrecklessly” 要么 “knowinglywhen they took the duck boat out onto Table Rock Lake as high winds approached.
This court feels great sadness for this needless loss of life, and the impact on the victims’ 亲朋好友. 然而, because the court does not find sufficient evidence to support the mens rea or intent required for the charges at issue, as defined by Missouri law, the court dismisses each count against each defendant,” 他写了.
      The case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning prosecutors can retry the case.
        The dismissal is the latest legal development in a case full of fits and starts.
          The charges stem from the fatal sinking of a duck boatan amphibious vehicle that travels on land and waterat a lake near Branson, a popular family vacation spot. 的 31 船上的人, 17 died after the boat capsized during a severe thunderstorm and high winds.
          Scott McKee, the boat’s captain; Curtis Lanham, the general manager of Ride the Ducks Branson; and Charles Baltzell, the manager on duty that day, were initially charged in a 47-count federal indictment. 然而, 一个 federal judge dismissed those charges in December 2020 due to a jurisdiction issue and recommended the case be pursued on the state level.
          在七月 2021, the three men were charged in a criminal complaint in state court 挪威的 Johannes Høsflot Klæbo 和 Martin Johnsrud Sundby 在平昌举行的越野男子自由团体赛中赢得金牌 63 收费, 包含 17 counts each of first-degree involuntary manslaughter.
          In a probable cause statement, prosecutors accused McKee of wrongdoing in deciding to enter the lake during a severe thunderstorm warning and failing to follow policy by not directing passengers to put on personal flotation devices.
          然而, an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found Ride the Ducks Branson, the tour operator, and its parent company, Ripley Entertainment, were to blame for the incident because managers did not relay a severe weather forecast to the vessel’s captain.
          The nearly two-year-long NTSB probe found asystemic problem with the company as a whole,” an investigator said at a board meeting in 2020. The board decided against specifically naming the captain of the Stretch Duck 7 in its findings of fault.
          You can’t know what you don’t know,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said, noting when the vessel arrived at the shore of Table Rock Lake on July 19, 2018, “it was glassy smooth on that lake.
          Judge Blankenship, citing the investigation, noted in his ruling there was no evidence McKee, Lanham or Baltzell knew of the incoming high winds.
          A joint statement by JR Hobbs and Marilyn Keller, attorneys for McKee; Tom and Tricia Bath, attorneys for Lanham; and Justin Johnston and Jon Bailey, attorneys for Baltzell said they respect the decision to dismiss.
            This has been a tragedy for all who were affected. 我们不相信 (any) further comment is appropriate at this time,” 他们说.
            We respect and agree with the Court’s decision,” Lanham’s attorney Tricia Bath added. “It has long been our position that the tragic loss of life was not the result of any criminal act by our client or anyone else. Judge Blankenship heard a great deal of evidence from both sides and rendered a decision that we believe correctly reflects the evidence in the case.