Captain in fatal duck boat accident charged with misconduct, negligence, more

9 months 1 week 5 days ago Thursday, November 08 2018 Nov 8, 2018 Thursday, November 08, 2018 11:15:00 AM CST November 08, 2018 in News
By: Annie Hammock, KOMU 8 Interactive Director, Blake Sammann and Kara Strickland, KOMU 8 Reporters
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SPRINGFIELD - The man at the helm of a duck boat that sank on Table Rock Lake during a sudden storm has been indicted on multiple counts by a federal grand jury. Seventeen people died in the July 19 tragedy.

Kenneth Scott McKee is charged with misconduct, negligence and inattention to duty causing or contributing to a death.

U.S. Attorney Timothy Garrison said, "Each of the 17 counts in this indictment represents a life that was lost when Stretch Duck 7 sank while being piloted by Mr. McKee."

Garrison said McKee failed to properly assess incoming severe weather; entered the vessel on the water while there was severe weather including high winds and lightning; and operated the vessel in weather which generated wind speeds and wave heights that exceeded those for which the boat was rated.

The indictment alleges McKee "failed to raise the side curtains, failed to direct passengers to don their personal floatation devices and failed to prepare to abandon ship after each of two separate soundings of the vessel’s bilge alarms," Garrison said.

He said the investigative team will work as quickly as possible to bring the case to a conclusion, without sacrificing or compromising.

"We owe that to the victims and surviving family members," he said.

Garrison would not comment on how the criminal case may impact civil lawsuits stemming from the deadly accident.

Two members of an Indiana family who lost nine relatives in the tragedy are suing for $100 million.

The lawsuit accuses Ride the Ducks of Branson owner, Ripley Entertainment, and others of ignoring bad weather warnings that day and of knowing that design flaws made the boats susceptible to sinking.

Garrison said his team is in "constant communication" with surviving family members.

At the time of Garrison's news conference, McKee was not in custody, but was expected to surrender himself.

The charges against him carry a possible punishment of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole on each count, plus a $250,000 fine.

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