NTSB Cites Weather, Canopy & Coast Guard Failure As Causes For Deadly Duck Boat Sinking

Wednesday, April 29th 2020, 8:42 am
By: Tess Maune


The National Transportation Safety Board has released a report that outlines what caused a deadly duck boat crash in Branson in 2018

The NTSB says severe weather, the boat's canopy and a failure by the U.S. Coast Guard all played a role in the sinking of the "Stretch Duck 7" that killed 17 people.

The report says Ride the Ducks of Branson continued to give tours on Table Rock Lake, even though a severe thunderstorm watch had been in effect for several hours. It says a severe thunderstorm warning went out one minute before the boat departed.            

The storm pushed waves into the boat, which caused it to sink. In all 31 people were on board, 17 died, including one of the crew members.              

The report says the fixed canopy on the board added to the severity of the accident because the design it made it difficult for passengers to escape.  

“When the vessel sank, the closed starboard-side curtain aboard the vessel impeded the passengers’ escape and likely resulted in additional fatalities,” the report said.

The report also says the U.S. Coast Guard's failure to require sufficient reserve buoyancy in amphibious vessels contributed to the boat's sinking. The NTSB says it says it warned about the Coast Guard about that issue in 2002, but no action was taken.

“NTSB investigators found that the accident vessel was originally constructed with a low freeboard, an open hull, and no subdivision or flotation, resulting in a design without adequate reserve buoyancy,” the report said. 

The National Transportation Safety Board issued six safety recommendations to the company that owns the boats and to the U.S. Coast guard. They address safety issues including company oversight, engine compartment ventilation closures, reserve buoyancy, survivability, weather training for mariners, and Coast Guard guidance.