Captain of duck boat that killed 17 in July accident indicted on charges of misconduct, negligence

Captain of duck boat that killed 17 in July accident indicted on charges of misconduct, negligence

Duck boat captain in fatal capsizing indicted on 17 felony counts

Kenneth Scott McKee was indicted Thursday in connection with the tragic duck boat sinking that killed 17 people, including nine members of one family.

Prosecutors said McKee did not properly assess the weather that fateful day in July — before or after the boat went into the water. McKee also allegedly failed to tell passengers to put on their flotation devices or prepare them to abandon ship after two separate alarms sounded.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigated the incident, the captain had conducted a safety briefing before the boat entering the water, demonstrating how to use the life jacket and pointing out their location.

The captain was charged with 17 counts of misconduct and negligence or inattention to duty by a ships officer resulting in death, according to the indictment. He faces up to 10 years in prison on each count.

Video: Captain in deadly Missouri duck boat crash indicted

The amphibious boat was not supposed to operate in water if winds in the area clocked in at 35 mph or waves were higher than 2 feet, according to the vessels certificate of inspection, released by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The vessel known as a “duck boat” went down July 19 on Table Rock Lake near the city of Branson. The amphibious vehicle, which can drive on land and float in water, carried 29 passengers and two crew.

Missouri duck boat captain indicted in connection with sinking that killed 17 passengers

Twenty-nine passengers and 2 crew members were on board the Stretch Duck 7 on July 19, when it sank in Table Rock Lake near the tourist town of Branson, Missouri, as thunderstorms rolled into the area. The boat landed upright on its wheels.

The U.S. Coast Guard found probable cause that the accident "resulted from the misconduct, negligence, or inattention to the duties" by the boat's captain, Kenneth McKee, according to an August court filing. The U.S. attorney's office added that the captain of a second duck boat that safely made it to shore during the storm acted in a "grossly negligent manner," though the court filing didn't elaborate on those findings.

Duck Boat Captain Indicted In Missouri Lake Accident That Killed 17

Several lawsuits have been filed on behalf of victims and survivors, including a $100 million federal lawsuit filed in Kansas City, Missouri, by lawyers representing victims of the Indiana family that lost nine relatives in the accident.

“Our entire community was shocked and saddened by the loss of 17 lives in this tragic event last summer,” Garrison said. “Today’s indictment alleges that the misconduct, negligence and inattention to duty by the ship’s captain caused or contributed to the loss of those lives.”

Missouri tour boat captain indicted after sinking kills 17

All but two members of the Coleman family who went on that duck boat excursion were killed in the accident. Tia Coleman lost her three young children and husband. Arya Coleman, only 1 year old, was the youngest to die and Ervin Coleman, 76, was the oldest.

Grand jury indicts captain of duck boat invovled in deadly accident near Branson

In a statement through her attorneys following the indictment, Tia Coleman said “While nothing can ever ease the grief in my heart, I am grateful that the U.S. Attorneys Office is fighting for justice for my family, and the other victims, and is committed to holding fully accountable all those responsible for this tragedy.”

“While nothing can ever ease the grief in my heart, I am grateful that the U.S. Attorneys Office is fighting for justice for my family, and the other victims, and is committed to holding fully accountable all those responsible for this tragedy,” Coleman said in a statement.

Also among the victims were two couples from Missouri, an Illinois woman who died while saving her granddaughters life, and an Arkansas father and son.

“Well, different vessels have different ratings for what they are able to withstand,” Garrison said. “And we are alleging that Mr. McKee operated this particular vessel under conditions which exceeded those which the vessel was able to withstand.”

“The captain did say something about life jackets,” Tia Coleman said following the accident. “He said, Above you are your life jackets. There are three sizes. Im gonna show you where they are, but you wont need them. So, no need to worry. So we didnt grab them.”

“The captain of the vessel always has a duty to operate his vessel in a safe manner and that is why Mr. McKee is under indictment this morning,” U.S. Attorney for Western District of Missouri Tim Garrison said in announcing the indictments.

The NTSB report on the accident does not mention the captain saying passengers wouldnt need the life jackets.

The U.S. Coast Guard had found probable cause that the accident resulted from McKees “misconduct, negligence, or inattention to the duties,” according to an August court filing. The U.S. attorneys office said the captain of a second duck boat that safely made it to shore during the storm acted in a “grossly negligent manner,” though the court filing didnt elaborate on those findings.

Captain indicted in deadly Missouri tourist boat incident

Suzanne Smagala, a spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment, the company that owns and operates the duck boats, previously said in a statement, “We are refrained from commenting on an ongoing investigation, including the suit that has been filed by the Missouri Attorney General.”

On May 1, 1999, 13 people died when the Miss Majestic duck boat sank on Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 2015, five college students died and more than 70 people were hurt when a duck boat veered into a charter bus on a bridge in Seattle. Two Hungarian tourists died in 2010 when a stalled duck boat was struck by a tugboat-guided barge on the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

“We continue to fully cooperate with federal and state authorities, including the NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board]. We are providing all documentation and materials requested in the case and are complying with all hearing procedures,” the statement said.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The captain of a tourist boat that sank in southwest Missouri and killed 17 people, including nine members of an Indiana family, didnt tell passengers to put on flotation devices or prepare them to abandon ship even after waves crashed into the boat during a severe storm, according to an indictment released Thursday.

(CNN)The captain of a duck boat that capsized in July on a Missouri lake, killing 17 people, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the wreck.


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