17 Dead In Branson 'Duck' Boat Accident
BRANSON, Missouri - Nine members of one family died when a duck boat capsized in thunderstorm in Branson, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's office confirmed Friday. Two other members of the family survived.
The accident killed a total of 17 people died.
Several pastors planned a vigil for the victims Friday night. They will be gathering at 9 p.m. Friday at Brookside Church in Branson, with a previously scheduled fireworks display to follow the vigil and prayers. The Stone County Sheriff's Office posted details about the vigil on its Facebook page. The post says, "EVERYONE is welcome!"
The amphibious duck boat was carrying 31 people when it was hit by a storm with wind gusts of more 60 mph.
Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said the first 911 call came in at 7:09 p.m.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace says the vessel came to rest in 80 feet of water. Authorities initially said it would be raised Friday but Pace says it will take several days to get the equipment in place. He says investigators "want to preserve evidence as best as possible."
Pace says the area has been secured and the investigation turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board and the Coast Guard.
Pace says divers indicated that the water visibility was better than normal, expediting the recovery of the victims' bodies.
In a news conference Friday morning, the sheriff said the driver of the boat died but the captain of the boat survived.
Pace says seven of the 14 survivors were hurt and that the dead ranged in age from one to 70 years old.
CBS News reported a spokeswoman for the Cox Medical Center Branson said four adults and three children arrived at the hospital shortly after the incident. Two adults were in critical condition and the others were treated for minor injuries, Brandei Clifton said.
President Donald Trump extended his "deepest sympathies" to those affected by a Missouri boat accident that has killed at least 13.
Jim Pattison Jr., the president of Ripley Entertainment which owns the duck boat tour company involved in the incident, told "CBS This Morning" on Friday the boat "shouldn't have been in the water."
"I don't have all the details, but to answer your question, no, it shouldn't have been in the water if, if what happened, happened," he said when asked why the tour continued in such rough conditions.
"This business has been operating for 47 years and we've never had an incident like this or anything close to it. To the best of our knowledge – and we don't have a lot of information now – but it was a fast-moving storm that came out of basically nowhere is sort of the verbal analysis I've got," Pattison said.
According to Pattison, the boats do have life jackets on board but the law does not require passengers to wear them.
"Usually the lake is very placid and it's not a long tour, they go in and kind of around an island and back. We had other boats in the water earlier and it had been a great, sort of calm experience," Pattison said.
He added that the captain of that particular boat had 16 years of experience with the company, Ride the Ducks.
"You know, they have a very good record. So, again, this seems to be sort of almost a micro storm effect of something that no one was expecting to happen the way that it did," Pattison said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that investigators will arrive on the scene Friday morning.A spokeswoman for the Cox Medical Center Branson said four adults and three children arrived at the hospital shortly after the incident. Two adults were in critical condition and the others were treated for minor injuries, Brandei Clifton said.
Duck boats are 6-wheel-drive amphibious trucks originally used by the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean War. They earned that nickname from their military designation which was DUKW. Many of the current duck boats in use were custom built, but based on the same design.