The captain of a tourist boat that sank in southwest Missouri and killed 17 people, including nine members of an Indiana family, didn't tell passengers to put on flotation devices or prepare them to abandon ship even after waves crashed into the boat during a severe storm, according to an indictment released Thursday. The federal indictment shows Kenneth Scott McKee faces 17 counts of misconduct, negligence or inattention to duty by a ship's officer resulting in death, the AP reports. The deaths occurred after the duck boat, a refurbished amphibious vessel originally used by the military during World War II, sank during a storm in July. McKee, 51, also is accused of failing to properly assess the weather before and after the boat went into Table Rock Lake near Branson.
If convicted, McKee could face up to 10 years in prison for each count and a fine of $250,000. Tia Coleman—whose husband, three young children and five other family members died in the sinking—released a statement Thursday saying she was pleased an indictment had been filed. Coleman was among 14 people who survived the sinking. The other people killed included two couples from Missouri, an Illinois woman who died while saving her granddaughter's life, an Arkansas father and son, and a retired pastor who was the boat's operator on land. Several lawsuits have been filed on behalf of victims and survivors against boat operator Ripley Entertainment and other. Robert Mongeluzzi, an attorney representing Coleman and others, said he's confident the federal investigation will go beyond McKee. (Read more duck boat stories.)