Criminal Negligence Could Be Considered In Fatal Branson Duck Boat Sinking
BRANSON, Missouri - Crews worked in Branson, Missouri Monday to recover the duck boat that sunk to the bottom of Table Rock Lake, killing 17 people.
CBS is reporting the Missouri Highway Patrol is looking into possible criminal negligence. We've also learned the Ride the Ducks company is offering to pay for funerals and hospital bills for victims and survivors.
The boat was 80 feet down, but upright, for three-and-a-half days before it was lifted Monday morning.
Investigators now have it at a secure location as they determine what happened and how so many people died with life vests at arms’ reach.
On Table Rock Lake, the boat recovery work was just off the stern of the Branson Belle, where Duck Boat #7 sank Thursday night.
A crane lifted the boat, the water was pumped out and the boat was taken to shore.
The National Transportation Safety Board will handle the rest of the investigation.
“Everything was photographed by the divers and they conducted a survey of its condition on the bottom,” Captain Scott Stoermer with the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The boat was loaded onto a truck and hauled away with life vests still hanging just over the passengers’ seats.
“It's horrible, sad and tragic. I couldn't imagine being the mom going through all that, losing her kids, her husband and other family members,” said Diane Hall of Branson.
In town, visitors stopped to pay respects outside the office of the company that runs the boats.
“My heart breaks even worse than it was,” Denise Burroughs said.
Judy Conner of Bartlesville said, “I feel so, so, sorry for the survivors, and those that didn't make it. I've ridden the Duck Boats and we enjoyed it, but there wasn't a storm like that.”
The remaining fleet of Duck Boats is parked while the investigation begins into the safety of the vehicle and how they should be operated if they ever return to the water.
Investigators have no time frame for their investigation, which is not the first of a fatal accident involving these boats.