Two Missouri duck boat captains targeted in criminal investigation

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(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — The captains of two duck boats that battled rough waters before one sank last month on Missouri's Table Rock Lake are targets of a criminal investigation, according to federal court documents filed Wednesday, The Kansas City Star reported.

Kenneth Scott McKee, captain of the sunken Stretch Duck 7, and Barry King, captain of Stretch Duck 54, “are aware of their status as targets of the government action,” the document states. They are under investigation for allegedly operating the vessels in a manner that endangered lives.

Seventeen of the 31 passengers on Stretch Duck 7 died when the boat sank during a strong storm on July 19. Stretch Duck 54 was also on the water but made it to shore.

The documents filed in U.S. District Court also state that Ripley Entertainment, which owns the Ride the Ducks boats, is another “target” or “subject” of the investigation.

The U.S. Coast Guard referred the investigation to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri on Aug. 13 to pursue possible federal criminal charges. That office, based in Kansas City, includes the Table Rock Lake area.

According to the documents filed Wednesday, the Coast Guard notified the U.S. Attorney’s Office that its preliminary probable cause determination was that the sinking of Stretch Duck 7 and the loss of lives “resulted from the misconduct, negligence, or inattention to the duties of the captain of the vessel at the time of the sinking, which is a violation of federal criminal law.”

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By Professional Mariner Staff