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Judge recommends dropping charges in Missouri duck boat accident

Posted at 7:27 AM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 07:32:21-04

BRANSON, Mo. (LEX 18) — Seventeen people were killed in 2018 when a duck boat was caught in a storm and capsized on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri.

A federal judge now recommends dismissing the criminal charges against three men charged in that accident.

Nine of the victims were related to a Lexington high school student.

Not long after the accident, lawsuits against the owners and operators of the tourist boat claimed they put profits over people’s safety.

Authorities indicted the general manager and manager on duty of the boat's operator, Ride the Ducks Branson, on various neglect and misconduct charges. The boat's captain was charged with failing to properly assess incoming weather.

The National Transportation Safety Board has ruled that the company was at fault for the sinking because managers did not relay a severe weather forecast to the boat’s captain.

Now, a federal judge recommends dismissing the charges against the men. In a ruling last week, the judge said the lake is not considered a navigable waterway under admiralty law. He argued the case should be handled at the state level, not at the federal level.

A district judge will review the dismissal recommendation.