Coast Guard investigators found evidence that “misconduct, negligence, or inattention to the duties” of the captain contributed to the deaths of 17 people when an amphibious duck boat sank on Table Rock Lake, Mo., July 19, federal prosecutors say in court papers.
Federal prosecutors filed a motion Wednesday with the federal court in Kansas City, Mo., seeking to delay the discovery process in civil lawsuits that have been filed in connection with the deadly sinking, the Associated Press reported. The process involves lawyers sharing documents and information, and prosecutors said that should be delayed until the criminal investigation is completed.
Lawyers involved in the civil cases – including for defendants Ride the Ducks Branson, its captain, and its corporate parent Ripley Entertainment – are not entitled to know the substance of the government’s case while the criminal investigation is ongoing, prosecutors contend.
The boat Stretch Duck 7 was carrying 29 passengers and two crew members for what was usually a 20-minute ride on the lake near tourist hub Branson, Mo., when a powerful thunderstorm swept across with winds exceeding 70 mph.
The Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the accident. NTSB officials have said Table Rock Lake was under a severe thunderstorm warning that had been issued about half an hour before the duck boat entered the lake that evening.
Video recordings recovered from Stretch Duck 7 showed an unidentified person on the boat before it departed telling the crew to take passengers on the lake portion of the tour first, according to the NTSB.