Missouri duck boat

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1 year later: An account of the Missouri duck boat sinking

The Table Rock Lake duck boats have since ceased operation

July 19, 2019 - 12:24 pm
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP/KMOX) — The morning of July 19, 2018, had that feel Midwesterners are familiar with: That still, sticky air hinting a stormy day ahead. 

The National Weather Service would confirm it when it issued a severe thunderstorm watch for southwest Missouri at 11:24 a.m., stretching until 9 that evening. About five minutes later, a weather monitoring service would share the information with Branson Ride the Ducks, the popular attraction that took tourists on land and water. 

Related: Table Rock Lake duck boats won't run this summer

What happened over the next eight hours will be at the heart of determining who if anyone is responsible for the tragedy that claimed 17 lives that night. But this much is clear: Court documents, as well as other reports and interviews, when laid side by side, capture a terrifying night on Table Rock Lake. 

This account is based on a timeline built in lawsuits, indictments, a report from the National Transportation Safety Boardand witness interviews at the time. 

Related: 2 more duck boat workers indicted in sinking that killed 17

At 3 p.m., Charles Baltzell showed up for his shift as Ride the Ducks' sole manager working that night. Baltzell, 77, was described as an operations supervisor and manager on duty. That involved making sure the duck boat tours ran on time, acting as a dispatcher to communicate over handheld radio with the drivers, who steered the vessel on land, and captains, who took the helm on water. 

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) released the following statement today marking the first anniversary of the duck boat tragedy at Table Rock Lake: