Posted on August 30, 2018 by Ashleigh Cowie

Federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into the sinking of the Stretch Duck 7. The investigation involves the captains of both duck boats on the water at Branson, Missouri, on the day that the incident took place.

The motion was filed on Wednesday after a referral by the US Coast Guard. 

The captain of Stretch Suck 7, Kenneth Scott McKee, and Barry Kind the captain of Stretch Duck 54 are both said to be at the centre of the inquiry. 

The US Coast Guard concluded their investigation on the 13th August, and determined that the duck boat likely sunk due to "misconduct, negligence or inattention to the duties of the captain of the vessel".

They also concluded that the operations around second vessel, Stretch Duck 54, are undertaken in a "grossly negligent manner that... endangered the lives or bodies of persons on board the vessel". 

Both of the allegations are considered criminal offences.  

The Assistant U.S. Attorney, Casey Clark indicated that the criminal investigation is also considering allegations that the vessel's operator, Ripley Entertainment (Ride the Ducks Branson) "knowingly and wilfully caused or allowed such neglect and misconduct."

Stretch Duck 7

31 people were on board Stretch Duck 7 as she set off on a routine tour of Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri on the 19th July. 

Storms were forecast and at around 1900 winds picked up and wave heights increased dramatically. The Stretch Duck 7 sunk shortly after, killing 16 passengers and one crew member. Stretch Duck 54 made it safely to shore. 

The wreck was raised on the 23rd July and brought to a storage site for investigation. This investigation was carried out by the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board. 

The boat's video recorder and black box were recovered and their digital contents were reviewed. 

The families and estates of several victims have filed lawsuits seeking a combined amount in excess of $100 million in damages from Ripley Entertainment, the owner of Ride the Ducks Branson. Ride the Ducks International, Herschend Family Entertainment and Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing are also named in the suit. Federal prosecutors are seeking a stay in discovery in several of these civil cases  in order to avoid harming the government's criminal case. 

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