Table Rock Lake witnesses give first-hand account of duck boat accident

April FrancisJul 21, 2018

Nine of the 17 people who died in a duck boat accident were from the same family, a spokesperson for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Friday.

Parson spokeswoman Kelli Jones says Friday that another two members of the same family survived when the boat capsized on Table Rock Lake near the tourist town of Branson.

The incident began around 7 p.m. (0000 GMT) on Thursday after thunderstorms rolled through the area, when two duck boats were out on the lake, officials said. The Ride the Ducks boat sank Thursday night in the Lake of the Ozarks near Branson.

US President Donald Trump offered his "deepest sympathies" in a Friday morning tweet.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the US Coast Guard will investigated the accident.

Behr saw a woman lying in the water where he ran down to help, he said.

Duck boats have been involved in a string of deadly incidents that have killed more than three dozen people across the United States over the past two decades, by drowning and in crashes on land.

Harrowing cell phone footage appeared to show the vessel taking on water and having trouble moving as rough waters pummeled the boat.

The boat was the last one of the day - just like the boat we had taken on Sunday night.

Among the 17 victims that died, CNN reported that the driver has been identified by his widow Judy Williams, as Robert "Bob" Williams.

Jason Pace says 14 others survived, but that seven were injured.

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The company that builds ducks, Ride the Ducks International LLC, agreed in 2016 to pay a $1 million fine after one of the vehicles, which operate on land as well as water, collided with a bus in Seattle, killing five international students.

They ran for cover to a nearby shop, where the overheard someone say one of the duck boats had capsized.

The boat was carrying 29 passengers and two crew members on a pleasure cruise, and authorities said everyone aboard had been accounted for. Both headed back to shore but only one made it.

Safety advocates have sought improvements and complained that too many agencies regulate the boats with varying safety requirements.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Linderberg told the Associated Press that a top wind speed of 63 miles per hour had been measured at Branson Airport around 7 p.m. Thursday, just around the time of the accident. "She was unconscious. I was about ready to start CPR and the EMT did show up at that time".

Duck vehicles are modeled on the landing craft used in the D-Day invasion and used on sightseeing tours around the world.

Divers located the vessel, which came to rest on its wheels on the lakebed, and authorities planned to recover it later Friday.

The boat's captain, whose name wasn't immediately released, was among the survivors and was taken to a hospital, said Pattison, president of Ripley Entertainment Inc. He declined to answer questions about whether passengers on the duck had been wearing them at the time.

Weather can change rapidly in this part of the country, moving from sunshine and calm to unsafe storms within minutes, said Jason Schaumann, another weather service meteorologist.

Tony Burkhart and his wife were about to board the Branson Belle on Thursday evening when the weather took a turn for the worst, he told CNN via Twitter.

The company had been operating for 47 years without incident, Mr Pattinson told CBS, adding that the captain had over 16 years of experience on the water.

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