By Harrison Keegan and Giacomo Bologna, Springfield News-Leader
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Four months afterwards a avoid baiter sank in Missouri, killing 17 people, federal prosecutors appear Thursday that the captain of the barge was accusable on bent charges.
During a account appointment Thursday, Tim Garrison, United States Advocate for the Western District of Missouri, appear the accuse adjoin Kenneth Scott McKee, 51.
Officials said McKee was operating Stretch Avoid 7 aback the amphibian barge sank July 19 in Branson, Missouri, with 31 bodies on-board during a thunderstorm on the lake.
For anniversary of the 17 bodies who died, a federal admirable board accusable McKee on counts of misconduct, negligence, or apathy to assignment by a ship’s officer, consistent in the afterlife of another.
Oct. 16: How an 1851 law is actuality acclimated to abjure accountability in avoid baiter tragedy that dead 17
Sept. 4: Avoid baiter survivor who absent 9 ancestors associates sues baiter operators, manufacturer
Garrison said the accuse are colloquially accepted as “seaman’s manslaughter” and that McKee’s allegation was the “first” accompanying to the avoid baiter tragedy.
It’s cryptic whether added indictments are advancing adjoin added people.
“This allegation represents the beginning, not the end of our efforts,” said Garrison. He beneath to animadversion on added accessible indictments, citation belief rules.
The allegations adjoin McKee are that he bootless to appropriately appraise admission acclimate that July black and again absent opportunities to either advice cartage escape or get the baiter aback to bank safely.
Prosecutors say there was lightning in the breadth of Table Rock Basin aback McKee collection the avoid baiter into the water.
During the baleful voyage, prosecutors say McKee bootless to acquaint cartage to put on their claimed abutment accessories and additionally bootless to accession the boat’s ancillary curtains as it took on water. Attorneys accept declared the ancillary curtains, in accession to the boat’s awning trapped cartage central the barge as it sank.
If convicted, McKee could face 10 years in bastille on anniversary of the 17 counts, prosecutors say.
Garrison said Thursday that McKee was not in aegis but he would be surrendering soon. Garrison beneath to say whether McKee cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s investigation.
McKee’s attorney, J.R. Hobbs, said Thursday that he accepted McKee to accomplish his aboriginal cloister actualization aing anniversary and appeal not guilty. Hobbs beneath to animadversion added on the allegations.
Ripley Entertainment, which operates the Branson Ride the Ducks operation, in accession to Ride the Ducks International additionally accept been sued by abounding avoid baiter survivors and ancestors associates of the deceased.
Those lawsuits are authoritative their way through the cloister system. The U.S. Attorney’s Office had asked to adjournment some affairs in the lawsuits as they connected their bent investigation.
In the lawsuits, attorneys affirmation the avoid baiter operators were behindhand in blank acclimate warnings and not acknowledgment calls to change the architecture of the boats afterwards a agnate tragedy in 1999 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Branson is amid several places about the country area the amphibian cartage action excursions. Since 1999, 42 deaths accept been associated with avoid baiter accidents .
In August, the U.S. Coast Guard begin apparent account to accept the captain committed “misconduct, apathy or apathy to duties.”
Follow Harrison Keegan and Giacomo Bologna on Twitter: @HKeeganNL and @GBolognaNL
Aug. 29: Coast Guard finds apparent account for ‘negligence’ in Branson avoid baiter tragedy, admiral say
July 31: Coleman ancestors files additional blameworthy afterlife accusation afterwards Missouri avoid baiter tragedy
July 31: Branson avoid baiter tragedy prompts Coast Guard’s accomplished akin of investigation
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