A federal grand jury has indicted the captain of a duck boat in connection to 17 deaths that resulted when the boat capsized in Missouri in July.
Kenneth Scott McKee, 51, was charged on 17 counts related to each of the deaths, Tim Garrison, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced Thursday.
“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,” according to a news release.
He’s charged with one count for each of the 17 passengers who died when Stretch Duck 7 sank on July 19. The boat was carrying 31 passengers when it capsized.
Investigators reportedly believe severe weather may have caused the boat to capsize on Table Rock Lake near Branson, a popular tourist area.
What else did the indictment say?
The captain “failed to properly assess incoming weather” before entering the water and failed to instruct passengers to put on their personal flotation devices, the indictment alleges.
“The captain made a verbal reference to looking at the weather radar prior to the trip,” citing video recorded on the boat, the National Transportation Safety Board noted during its early investigation.
“At the time McKee drove the vessel into the water, according to the indictment, there was lightning in the area and severe weather approaching,” the release said.
Garrison told reporters during a news conference that McKee is not in custody, WTVR-TV reported.
If convicted, McKee could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.
The investigation is ongoing, according to the release.