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Captain of tour boat that sank on Missouri lake, killing 17, indicted on federal charges

Laura Bauer, Judy L. Thomas and Steve Vockrodt, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A federal grand jury has charged the captain of a duck boat that sank on Table Rock Lake in July, killing 17 people, with misconduct, negligence and inattention to duty.

An indictment was unsealed on Thursday morning, about an hour before the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri was set to make an announcement related to the duck boat incident at its office in Springfield.

Kenneth Scott McKee, who captained the Stretch Duck 7 boat on July 19 for Ride the Ducks in Branson, is accused of a litany of violations of federal law overseeing boat captains, including:

-- Not properly assessing incoming weather before taking the boat out on to water

-- Operating the boat in conditions that violate the U.S. Coast Guard's certificate of inspection

-- Not telling passengers to use flotation devices

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-- Not speeding up to head to the nearest shore as severe weather approached

-- Failing to raise the side curtains of the boat as its bilge alarm sounded as it took on water.

"Our entire community was shocked and saddened by the loss of 17 lives in this tragic event last summer," said U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison for the Western District of Missouri. "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."

McKee's attorney, J.R. Hobbs, had not yet seen the indictment and could not immediately provide comment.

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