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Missouri Duck Boat Captain Indicted on Criminal Charges


Posted in News and Events on November 29, 2018


In July of this year, a horrible tragedy took place in Branson, Missouri, when a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake. Sadly, 17 lives were lost in the accident – including 9 from the same family – and several other individuals were injured. The incident took place as a result of rough waters caused by a severe storm.

In early November, a federal grand jury indicted the captain and operator of the duck boat for criminal negligence and misconduct.

The Houston maritime lawyers of Lapeze & Johns have been closely monitoring the legal developments of this heartbreaking event.

The Charges the Duck Boat Captain Faces

Kenneth Scott McKee, who was captaining the duck boat when it sank, is being charged with 17 counts of misconduct, negligence, and inattention to duty by a ship’s officer. Each count was said to represent a life that was lost that day.

The indictments allege that the captain failed to adequately assess weather conditions, ignored warnings, and operated the vessel in a manner that did not meet regulations set by the U.S. Coast Guard. If convicted, McKee could face up to 10 years in federal prison for each count as well as a $250,000 fine.

Branson Ride the Ducks, owned by Ripley Entertainment, is facing multiple lawsuits from relatives of the victims.

The Danger of Duck Boats

According to NPR, “the land and water boats were originally used by the U.S. military in World War II.” Since then, the boats had been repurposed as vessels for tourist rides.

Unfortunately, the tragedy that took place was not the first of its kind. For over 20 years, the National Transportation Safety Board has warned the public and government officials that these vessels can be extremely dangerous. There initial warning came as a result of a similar accident in 1999 in Arkansas which claimed the lives of 13 victims.

These land and sea vessels have been involved in multiple accidents over the last two decades which have lead to multiple fatalities; this highlights how dangerous they can be and the negligence of those companies that still decide to use them.

When You’ve Been Injured in a Maritime Accident

Our Houston maritime lawyers have over two decades of experience in litigating and trying maritime cases all around Texas and across the Gulf Coast. Maritime accidents require familiarity and experience in maritime law.

Maritime laws can apply to recreational boaters, companies, and employers. Because of the complicated nature of maritime law, there are a number of situations in which this body of law can come into play, including:

  • Recreational boating accidents
  • Yachts, charters, or sailboat accidents
  • Ferry accidents
  • Fishing accidents
  • Other personal watercraft accidents

Our firm wants victims of maritime accidents to know that they are not alone and deserve the compensation that will help them recover from a life-altering accident.

Contact Lapeze & Johns today at 713-739-1010 for a free case review.