Local boaters react to Missouri duck boat accident

ABC News

Seventeen people, including nine members of one family, were killed Thursday night when the duck boat went down in rough weather on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri. Gov. Mike Parson's office confirmed the fatalities on Friday, saying two other members of the family survived.

At least seven other passengers were injured, including two in serious condition. He said the boat's captain survived but its driver did not.

They ranged in age from one-year-old Arya Coleman to the oldest victim Ervin Coleman, 76.

Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake.

Stone County sheriff Doug Rader said the boat had sunk in 40ft (12m) of water, and then rolled into 80ft of water.

People pray outside Ride the Ducks an amphibious tour operator involved in a boating accident on Table Rock Lake Friday

"When I saw the weather rolling in, we chose to leave", Burkhart said, adding that he had already purchased tickets for the duck boat trip Friday morning.

That deputy helped with the rescue, while employees of the Belle jumped in to help along with some of that ship's passengers, Rader said, describing the effort as "outstanding".

The National Transportation Safety Board and US Coast Guard are investigating the boat's sinking, which occurred around the time local weather warnings were issued due to powerful thunderstorms rolling through the area. I was inspired by the stories I heard from some of those who were part of the rescue effort and tremendously encouraged by the strength of the family members of victims I met with today. "And here were are a day later you and me talking and they're no longer with us".

Mongeluzzi said there have been as many as 40 deaths involving duck boats since 1999.

In what may be the most deadly incident, 13 people died in 1999 after a duck boat suddenly started taking on water while on a tour of Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark.

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It was found by police divers but authorities say it could take several days to pull it out of the water.

"He was at a great ambassador for Branson", Best said.

But Mongeluzzi says the "fatal flaw" of duck boats - their canopies - remains unchanged despite findings that show they can be hazardous when sinking. "They're not fit for water or land because they are a half vehicle and half boat".

In a short video taken by Malaske from a dock, the duck boat can be seen wallowing through the choppy, wind-whipped lake, with water only inches from its windows. Both headed back to shore but only one made it.

"Duck boats are death traps", attorney Robert Mongeluzzi tells TIME.

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Allison Warmuth, 28, was killed after colliding with a Boston Duck Boat Tours vehicle while riding on a moped on Beacon and Charles Streets on April 30, 2016.

Memorials have been held in Missouri, with 300 people gathered in the vehicle park of Ride the Ducks of Branson. "This incident has deeply affected all of us", Smagala-Potts said.

Located about 20 minutes from Branson, Table Rock Lake is a popular destination for "watercraft aficionados", according to its website.

"We did this because we want the families to know that we care", he added. "May God be with you all!"

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