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The captains on board the two Ride the Ducks boats struggling through rough waters on a Missouri lake until one sank, killing seventeen people, are targets of a criminal investigation, according to documents filed in federal court on Wednesday and obtained by ABC News.
Kenneth McKee, the captain of the sunken boat, and Barry King, the captain of the boat that made it to shore without any fatalities, “are aware of their status as targets of the Government action,” the filing says.
Ripley Entertainment, the company that owned and operated the duck boats, and “several Ripley agents, employees, or officers” are also targets of the investigation, according to the documents. The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed.
ABC News’ requests for comment from the captains have gone unanswered.
The investigation stems from an accident that took place on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri when a storm struck while two duck boats used for tours of the lake struggled to reach shore. One of them, captained by McKee, was overwhelmed by the conditions and sank. Seventeen of 31 passengers died, including nine members of a single family.
According to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting its own independent investigation from the criminal probe, the captain of the ill-fated boat checked the weather reports and discussed safety procedures, including the location of life jackets prior to the event.
“In the vicinity of the boat ramp, the captain began a safety briefing regarding the water portion of the tour,” the report states. “The briefing included the location of emergency exits as well as the location of the life jackets. The captain then demonstrated the use of a life jacket and pointed out the location of the life rings.”
Five minutes after the boat entered the …
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