A federal grand jury has indicted the captain of the duck boat that sank on Table Rock Lake over the summer, claiming 17 lives.
51 year old Kenneth McKee of Verona, Missouri faces 17 separate charges of “misconduct, negligence or inattention to duty by a ship’s officer resulting in the death of another person.” The indictment lists McKee as the pilot of “Stretch Duck 7” when it sank. Each count carries a maximum of ten years in federal prison without parole and a fine of $250,000.
“Different vessels have different ratings for what they are able to withstand, and we are alleging that Mr. McKee operated this particular vessel under conditions which exceeded those for which this vehicle was able to withstand,” says Tim Garrison, U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The indictment alleges McKee failed to properly assess incoming severe weather before and after entering the water. Those are among 16 areas McKee was allegedly negligent.
“Failed to raise the side curtains, failed to instruct his passengers to don their personal flotation devices and failed to prepare to abandon ship after each of two separate soundings of the vehicle’s bilge alarms,” says Tim Garrison.
Garrison says each of these areas represents a missed chance to potentially avoid this tragedy.
“The specific allegations of misconduct or negligence the indictment alleges either individually or cumulatively contributed to the sinking of the vessel,” says Garrison.
Garrison said he couldn’t comment on the status of the investigation, beyond saying it was on-going. However, he did indicate there will be more information in the future.
“This indictment represents the beginning, and not the end of our efforts in this matter,” says Garrison.
McKee is not in custody at the moment, but is expected to surrender himself to authorities in the next few days.