Missouri duck boat captain indicted in connection with sinking that killed 17 passengers

A federal grand jury indicted the duck boat captain whose vessel capsized near Branson, Missouri, killing 17 passengers, federal authorities announced on Thursday.

Kenneth Scott McKee, a 51-year-old resident of Verona, Missouri, was charged with 17 counts of misconduct, negligence or inattention to duty by a ship's officer, officials said.

"The captain of the vessel always has a duty to operate his vessel in a safe manner and that is why Mr. McKee is under indictment this morning," U.S. Attorney for Western District of Missouri Tim Garrison said in announcing the indictments.

The tragedy unfolded on July 19 when a Ride the Ducks amphibious boat, dubbed "Stretch Duck 7," ventured on to Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm with 60 mph winds.

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Tourist 'duck boat' capsizes in Missouri
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Tourist 'duck boat' capsizes in Missouri
The buck boat is hauled out of the water on Monday, July 23, 2018, at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo. (J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)
During a press conference Monday, July 30, 2018 in Kansas City, attorney Andrew Duffy, middle, speaks about the lawsuit being filed on behalf of the family who lost nine members during the duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake. (Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
Rescue personnel are seen after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS
Duck boat accident survivor Tia Coleman speaks to the media during a news conference at Cox Medical Center Branson Saturday, July 21, 2018 in Branson, Mo. Coleman lost 9 family members in the accident Thursday on Table Rock Lake which left a total of 17 people dead. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Flowers left by mourners rest on the ticket counter at the closed Ride the Ducks attraction Saturday, July 21, 2018 in Branson, Mo. One of the company's duck boats capsized Thursday night resulting in 17 deaths on Table Rock Lake. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Rescue personnel work after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS
Mourners gather in the parking lot of the Ride the Ducks offices in Branson, Mo., during a candle light vigil on Friday, July 20, 2018 for the victims of the Branson duck boat tragedy at Table Rock Lake. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
A duck boat is seen at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, U.S., July 19, 2018 in this picture grab obtained from social media video. Ron Folsom/via REUTERS
FILE - In this July 21, 2018 file photo, a small memorial for the victims of Thursday's duck boat accident overlooks Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo. The company that owns the Ride the Ducks operation in Branson is asking a judge to dismiss some of the lawsuits filed after one of its boats sank on the Missouri lake, killing 17 people. The Kansas City Star reports Ripley Entertainment said in motions filed Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, that the boat's sinking July 19 on Table Rock Lake was "an unforeseeable and unintentional occurrence." (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A family of mourners stop to place a flower on a World War II DUKW boat used by Ride The Ducks tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A child places a candle down during a evening candlelight prayer vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Guest arrive for the showing of Glenn Coleman, Reece Coleman, Evan Coleman and Arya Coleman, Friday, July 27, 2018, in Indianapolis. Nine members of the Coleman family were killed after a duck boat capsized and sank during a storm in Branson, Mo. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A family of mourners pause for a moment of prayer at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A Ride The Ducks World War II DUKW boat is seen at Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Vehicles of the victims of Thursday's Branson Duck Boat accident have been turned into a memorial on the parking lot for Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday.(Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Cards and flowers are seen on the vehicle of one of the victims of the Ride The Ducks Accident at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Members of the Coleman family comfort each other at a casket during the showing for Horace Coleman, Belinda Coleman, Irvin Coleman, Angela Coleman and Maxwell Coleman Ly, Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Indianapolis. Nine members of the Coleman family were killed in a duck boat accident at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A vehicle of one of the victims of Thursday's Branson Duck Boat accident has been turned into a memorial on the parking lot for Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: The fleet of the World War II DUKW boats are seen at Ride the Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday.(Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A family of mourners stop to place a flower on a World War II DUKW boat used by Ride The Ducks tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A child places a candle down during a evening candlelight prayer vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A vehicle of one of the Ride The Ducks accident victims is seen as it has become a memorial on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
During a press conference Monday, July 30, 2018 in Kansas City, attorney Robert Mongeluzzi speaks about the lawsuit being filed on behalf of the family who lost nine members during the duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake. (Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A family places flowers on vehicles of the victims of the Ride The Ducks accident on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A group of mourners pause for a moment of prayer at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
An attendee during a memorial for victims of the Branson duck boat sinking on Table Rock Lake holds a program listing the names of the victims on Sunday July 22, 2018 at the Williams Memorial Chapel on the campus of the College of the Ozarks near Branson, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A family places flowers on vehicles of the victims of the Ride The Ducks accident on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Boaters are seen on Table Rock Lake on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Table Rock Lake was the sight of a Ride The Ducks Tours Duck Boat capsizing accident on July 19th that killed over 10 people. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Lisa Berry wipes a tear during a news conference regarding the July 19 duck boat accident, Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Indianapolis. A second lawsuit has been filed by members of her family who lost nine relatives when the boat sank near Branson, Mo., killing 17 people. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A group of mourners pause for a moment of prayer and remembrance of the victims of the Ride The Ducks accident at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Worshippers gather during a evening candlelight prayer vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A Ride The Ducks World War II DUKW boat is seen at Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A group of mourners pause for a moment of prayer and remembrance of the victims of the Ride The Ducks accident at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A Ride The Ducks World War II DUKW boat is seen at Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Worshippers gather during a evening candlelight prayer vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A Ride The Ducks World War II DUKW boat is seen at Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Mourners gather in the parking lot of the Ride the Ducks offices in Branson, Mo., during a candle light vigil on Friday, July 20, 2018 for the victims of the Branson duck boat tragedy at Table Rock Lake. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: An overall of Table Rock Lake is seen on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Table Rock Lake was the sight of a Ride The Ducks Tours Duck Boat capsizing accident on July 19th that killed over 10 people. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
On Friday, July 20, 2018, the Branson Belle tour boat is docked on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo., where an amphibious vehicle capsized on Thursday, July 19, 2018, due to high winds. Seventeen people died in the mishap. People on the Branson Belle, which had not left the dock, assisted in rescuing some of the survivors. (Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A young girl plays with a toy candle during a evening candlelight vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Cards and flowers are seen on the vehicle of a victim of the Ride The Ducks Accident at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Worshippers gather during a evening candlelight prayer vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
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The U.S. Coast Guard found probable cause that the accident was caused by "negligence" and "inattention to the duties" by McKee, according to an August court filing.

McKee operated the boat "in violation of the conditions and limitations specified in the vessel's United States Coast Guard issued Certificate of Inspection," according to the indictment.

And specifically, the captain also "failed to properly assess the nature of the severe weather," the indictment said.

Even though other boats were out on the water that stormy day, prosecutors said this boat should not have shoved off.

"Well, different vessels have different ratings for what they are able to withstand," Garrison said. "And we are alleging that Mr. McKee operated this particular vessel under conditions which exceeded those which the vessel was able to withstand."

Tia Coleman survived the tragic accident — but lost husband Glen Coleman, 40, and her children Maxwell Coleman, 2, Evan Coleman, 7, and Reece Coleman, 9. She thanked prosecutors on Thursday.

"While nothing can ever ease the grief in my heart, I am grateful that the U.S. Attorney's Office is fighting for justice for my family, and the other victims, and is committed to holding fully accountable all those responsible for this tragedy," Coleman said in a statement.

Two other children, 1 and 15 years old, died in the accident.

McKee was not taken into custody on Thursday, and defense lawyer James Hobbs said he's arranging for his client to surrender next week.

The defense lawyer declined to comment on the indictment.

 

 

 

 

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