Duck Boat Operator Indicted on 17 Counts of “Seaman’s Manslaughter”

by: Collin Lingo, Ozarks First

U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison, along with investigators, highway patrolmen and the Branson Missouri chief of police, announced on Thursday a grand jury has indicted Ride the Ducks Duck Boat operator Kenneth Scott McKee with Seventeen counts of the same charge.

“Formally titled ‘Misconduct or Neglect of Ship Officers’ but which is sometimes colloquially referred to as ‘Seaman’s Manslaughter,” Garrison said Thursday morning. “Each of the seventeen counts in this indictment represents a life that was lost when Stretch duck seven sank while being piloted by Mr. McKee.”

Garrison explained each of the allegations facing McKee.

“McKee’s acts of misconduct and inattention to duty contributed to or caused the destruction of the lives of seventeen people,” he says. “The indictment alleges that Mr. McKee failed to properly assess incoming severe weather both prior to and after entering the water at Table Rock Lake. That he entered the vessel on the water while there was severe weather including high winds and lightning approaching the area. Finally, he failed to raise the side curtains, failed to instruct his passengers to dawn their personal flotation devices and failed to prepare to abandon ship after each of two separate soundings of the vehicles alarms.”

A class C felony, Seaman’s Manslaughter is punished by up to ten years in prison and a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar fine.

Convicting McKee of all seventeen counts would result in nearly a 200-year prison sentence.

Garrison wouldn’t say if that was his office’s plan.

“Mr. Garrison can you say at this time whether you would seek the maximum possible punishment in this case,” a reporter asked.

“No. I can’t say that. at this time,” he responded.

The report from Ozarks First including segments of the Press Conference with Tim Garrison is available here.