Captain from duck boat disaster indicted on criminal charges

The captain involved in the Missouri duck boat disaster that left 17 people dead over the summer was indicted Thursday on criminal charges.

Kenneth Scott McKee, 51, was hit with more than a dozen counts of misconduct, negligence, or inattention to duty by a ship’s officer, resulting in the death of another individual — also known as “seaman’s manslaughter.”

Federal prosecutors announced the charges during a press conference.

“This indictment represents the beginning, not the end of our efforts,” said Tim Garrison, US attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

McKee is accused of steering the Stretch Duck 7 amphibious vessel out onto the waters of Table Rock Lake in Branson on July 19 during a thunderstorm, along with a slew of other offenses. Thirty-one people were on board that day when the boat sank.

In the indictment, prosecutors said McKee not only “failed to properly assess the nature of the severe weather,” but also left the boat’s side curtains down — trapping passengers inside.

The US Coast Guard revealed in August that he was prohibited from captaining the Stretch Duck 7 when winds exceeded 35 mph or waves went over 2 feet. National Transportation Safety Board officials have said that the winds were raging at the time of the accident, with gusts over 70 mph and waves well over 3 feet.

McKee faces up to 10 years in prison, if convicted. His lawyer told the Springfield News-Leader that he’s expected to plead not guilty when he makes his first court appearance next week.

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