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Duck Boat Captain Indicted for Table Rock Lake Sinking That Killed 17

Since news broke about the duck boat accident that claimed the lives of 17 people—and injured several more—Arnold & Itkin has been following the tragic story as it developed. The accident occurred after a duck boat tour operated by Ride the Ducks in Branson, MO sank in rough waters caused by a storm. Arnold & Itkin is representing a young girl who suffered emotional trauma caused by the event.

This past week, a federal jury indicted the captain of the duck boat on criminal charges.

The Charges the Duck Boat Captain Is Facing

The Ride the Ducks Branson captain was indicted on Thursday with charges of criminal negligence and misconduct. U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison revealed that the duck boat captain is facing a total of 17 counts of misconduct, negligence, and inattention to duty by a ship’s officer.

Garrison clarified that each of the 17 counts represents a life that was lost during the day’s unthinkable events. The boat’s captain is being accused of being unable to “properly assess incoming severe weather, both prior to and after entering the water,” Garrison said. The captain is being accused of ignoring warnings for the approaching storm and choosing to operate the boat in conditions that defy U.S. Coast Guard regulations.

The captain of the duck boat is facing 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The U.S. Attorney said it is not known if more people will be indicted.

A History of Danger

The safety of duck boats has been a topic of debate since 1999 when an Arkansas accident claimed the lives of 13 people. Last August, Arnold & Itkin chronicled the history of duck boats and the unsafe design that makes them prone to disaster.

Designed for war, the lumbering vehicles are hard to control on land and are prone to sinking while in the water. Their history of being in serious accidents makes operating a duck boat in storm conditions unacceptable—which is why the captain should never have entered the lake.

Our duck boat attorneys will continue to follow this story.