Duck boat cap­tain charged in ac­ci­dent

The Buffalo News - - FRONT PAGE - – Wash­ing­ton Post

ST. LOUIS – In an in­dict­ment that ref­er­enced a lit­tle-known law dat­ing back to the age of steamships, Ken­neth Scott Mc­Kee, the cap­tain of the duck boat that sank dur­ing a se­vere July thun­der­storm in south­west Mis­souri, was charged Thurs­day with mis­con­duct and neg­li­gence.

Sev­en­teen peo­ple be­tween the ages of 1 and 76, in­clud­ing nine mem­bers of one In­di­ana fam­ily, died on July 19 when the boat cap­sized amid high winds and be­gan tak­ing on wa­ter, mak­ing it one of the dead­li­est duck boat ac­ci­dents in decades.

The in­dict­ment said Mc­Kee had failed to prop­erly as­sess the weather fore­cast, ig­nor­ing warn­ings of high winds and light­ning when he took the boat out onto Ta­ble Rock Lake, near Bran­son, Mo. The statute that Mc­Kee was charged un­der is known col­lo­qui­ally as sea­man’s man­slaugh­ter, and dates back to the era when steam­boat dis­as­ters were com­mon­place, killing hun­dreds of peo­ple in fires and boiler ex­plo­sions. In 1838, Congress passed leg­is­la­tion stat­ing that cap­tains and crew could be held crim­i­nally li­able if any­one on board died as a re­sult of their mis­con­duct.

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