It’s been a week since 17 people were killed after a duck boat capsized during a storm in southwestern Missouri, but the country is still reeling from the unforeseen tragedy. Tia Coleman, who lost her husband, 3 children and 5 other family members, said she believes her loved ones could have been saved if life vests had been readily available on board.
The Ride the Ducks Branson amphibious vessel had 31 people on board when it left the shore on the lake near Branson, Missouri, as a severe thunderstorm stirred up intense winds and choppy waves.
As the boat slowly sank, onlookers described the horrifying scene—one after the other, heads bobbing on the water would slowly slip under, never resurfacing. Although tourists in other boats attempted to help, the seemingly unstoppable winds made it impossible to rescue everyone.
As the National Transportation Safety Board and the Coast Guard began investigations, the accident is raising concerns about the safety of duck boats and whether tourists should be passengers on them. This is not the first catastrophe involving duck boats. In 1999, 13 people were killed when a duck boat sank in Hot Springs, Arkansas. After that accident, the NTSB called for sweeping changes to the way such tourist boats operate and are regulated. According to the NTSB, duck boats have a notoriously hard time staying afloat.
Duck boats, which can ride on both land and water, are a popular tourist attraction in Missouri. The boat in Branson had been on a regular tour around Table Rock Lake. Experts said it is unclear why operators chose to ignore the forecasts and warnings of a potentially violent storm before setting off onto the lake.
Early Saturday, the Stone County Sheriff's Office released the names of all 17 people who died, ranging in age from 1 to 76 years old, authorities said.
Jim Pattison Jr., president of the company that owns the duck boat tours, said the ferocious thunderstorm "came out of nowhere." According to weather data however, the storm traveled hundreds of miles at 55 mph before it hit the lake. The area around Branson was placed under a severe thunderstorm warning about half an hour before the boat sank.
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a boating incident, contact the Weston admiralty & maritime disasters attorneys at Rash Mueller. today. Reach out to us today to learn more about the legal assistance we can provide to you.
Call (954) 914-7116 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.