SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A federal grand jury has charged the captain of a duck boat that sank on Desk Rock Lake in July, killing 17 individuals, with misconduct, negligence and inattention to responsibility.
An indictment was unsealed on Thursday morning, about an hour earlier than the U.S. Legal professional for the Western District of Missouri was set to make an announcement associated to the duck boat incident at its workplace in Springfield.
Kenneth Scott McKee, who captained the Stretch Duck 7 boat on July 19 for Journey the Geese in Branson, is accused of a litany of violations of federal regulation overseeing boat captains, together with:
– Not correctly assessing incoming climate earlier than taking the boat out on to water
– Working the boat in circumstances that violate the U.S. Coast Guard’s certificates of inspection
– Not telling passengers to make use of flotation units
– Not dashing as much as head to the closest shore as extreme climate approached
– Failing to lift the facet curtains of the boat as its bilge alarm sounded because it took on water.
“Our complete neighborhood was shocked and saddened by the lack of 17 lives on this tragic occasion final summer season,” mentioned U.S. Legal professional Tim Garrison for the Western District of Missouri. “Right now’s indictment alleges that the misconduct, negligence and inattention to responsibility by the ship’s captain induced or contributed to the lack of these lives.”
McKee’s lawyer, J.R. Hobbs, had not but seen the indictment and couldn’t instantly present remark.
McKee had been recognized as a goal of the federal investigation in an earlier court docket submitting by the U.S. lawyer’s workplace.
Thursday’s indictment is the primary felony cost arising from the Desk Rock Lake disaster.
The boat tour was initially set to start on land, its normal course. Tickets mentioned the tour would begin at 6:30 p.m.
Earlier than the primary passengers boarded, a person stepped onto the again of the boat at 6:28 p.m. and informed the crew to conduct the water portion of the tour first, the Nationwide Transportation Security Board mentioned.
The Nationwide Climate Service had issued a extreme thunderstorm warning at 6:32 p.m., particularly naming Desk Rock Lake. The warning mentioned winds in extra of 60 mph have been doable. In actuality, winds on the lake reached 73 mph – close to hurricane pressure – with waves topping three ft.
When the boat began its water tour at 6:55 p.m. on July 19 the lake appeared calm. Round that point, emergency crews in Taney County started responding to calls about toppled timber and downed energy traces brought on by the storm.
Simply after 7 p.m., whitecaps have been seen on the water and winds elevated, in accordance with an preliminary report launched by the NTSB. Lower than a minute later, the captain of the Journey the Geese boat made a remark concerning the storm, the NTSB report mentioned, with none additional rationalization.
In August, the Kansas Metropolis Star obtained a replica of a replica of Stretch Duck 07’s Certificates of Inspection, which units circumstances beneath which the vessel can function. These embrace the variety of passengers, climate and use of life preservers. The Branson boat’s certificates set stringent pointers for wind and water circumstances.
Based on the certificates of inspection, the corporate violated limitations put in place for extreme climate.
“Vessel shall not be operated waterborne when winds exceed 35 mph, and/or the wave top exceeds two ft,” mentioned the certificates issued in February 2017.
But the duck boat owned by Ripley Leisure entered Desk Rock Lake 23 minutes after the Nationwide Climate Service issued a extreme thunderstorm warning for the realm. That alert included Desk Rock Lake and warned of winds in extra of 60 mph.
Ripley Leisure bought Journey the Geese Branson from Herschend Household Leisure in December 2017. The tour boats haven’t been working in Branson because the tragedy.
Go to The Kansas Metropolis Star (Kansas Metropolis, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com