Captain charged in deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

Stretch Duck 7 after it was recovered from the waters of Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, following its sinking during a heavy-winds storm on July 19, 2018 (Photo: NTSB/Brian Young)

The captain of a duck boat that figured in a deadly sinking in Table Rock Lake in the US state of Missouri on July 19, 2018 has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Kenneth Scott McKee, captain of Stretch Duck 7 operated by Ripley Entertainment, has been charged with misconduct and negligence or inattention to duty by a ship’s officer resulting in the death of another person.

McKee has been charged with 17 counts of negligence resulting in death with one count for each of the 16 passengers and one crew member who perished in the sinking.

The captain allegedly failed to properly assess the weather before taking the boat out on the water despite the presence of lightning in the area and the warnings of severe weather approaching. He is also alleged to have failed in properly assessing the weather while the boat was already in transit.

McKee’s other alleged safety violations include failing to instruct passengers to don personal flotation devices, failing to head to the nearest shore at the onset of severe weather, and lowering the vessel’s side curtains thereby creating impediments for the occupants when the need came to abandon ship.

McKee may face up to 10 years in federal prison without parole on each count of conviction as well as a US$250,000 fine.

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