A Missouri judge recommended that federal charges be dropped against the three men accused in connection with the sinking of the duck boat that killed 17 people.
The boat sank on July 19, 2018, in Table Rock Lake near Branson, a popular family vacation spot. Amphibious duck boats can offer passengers both on water and on land trips.
Scott Mackie, Curtis Lanham and Charles are indicted in the 47 count indictment that was revealed in June 2019.
Mackie was the captain of the boat in 2018. Lanham was the general manager of Ride the Ducks Branson, and he was the duty manager on the day the boat sank.
In a ruling released on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge for West Missouri David B. Rush to agree to a joint proposal by the defendants to dismiss the indictment “for lack of Admiralty jurisdiction.”
The judge also recommended that other remaining requests that were still pending “be rejected as being moot.”
CNN contacted a US Department of Justice attorney to respond.
One of the reasons Rush listed for dismissing the indictment was that Table Rock Lake was not considered navigable as a matter of Admiralty law, according to the Eighth Circuit precedent.
The Rush ruling stated that if the three defendants are tried, the case must be handled at the state level rather than at the federal court level.
McKee’s legal team said the sinking was caused by “an anomalous wind and a rainstorm known as Derecho as winds preceded the storm front by seven to eight miles,” the legal team said in an email .
“The sinking of Stretch Duck 7 was a terrible tragedy,” Lanham’s attorney Tom Bath said in an email to CNN. “We believe the tragedy was a result of a once-in-a-lifetime storm and not the actions or inactivity of Curtis or any other employees.”
Baltzel’s attorney Justin Johnston said he agreed with Rush’s recommendation to dismiss the charges due to lack of jurisdiction.