Death toll from Branson’s Duck Boat grows to 17

TIME - July 20, 2018 11:17 am

Seventeen people are dead after an amphibious duck boat with tourists on board sank in a heavy storm near Branson, Missouri on Thursday.

The Stone County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the death toll on Friday morning after a dive team concluded recovery efforts to find four missing bodies.

The boat, from Ride the Ducks Branson, was one of two vessels caught in a heavy storm that rolled into the area about 7 p.m. local time. Videos posted on local media showed two boats struggling to make it to shore on Table Rock Lake amid heavy windy and choppy waters.

There were 31 people – 29 passengers and two crew members – aboard the capsized boat, according to the Stone County Sheriff’s Office. At a press conference Friday morning, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said the driver of the duck boat died in the accident, but the boat’s captain was among the survivors. He said an off-duty sheriff’s deputy working on security for the nearby Branson Belle riverboat in Table Rock Lake helped to rescue people in the water after the accident.

“It’s been a long night and a very trying night,” Rader said.

Seventeen people have been confirmed dead, including children. Fourteen survived, with seven taken to hospital. Those who died ranged in age from 1 to 70 years old, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace.

Rader said Friday morning that he did not have more information about whether the boat operators had checked the weather forecast before leaving shore or whether passengers had been wearing life jackets on board.

The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a team to investigate the cause of the accident.

“Right now, it’s just a time for thoughts and prayers. There’s a lot of healing that has to take place right now,” Missouri Governor Mike Parson said at Friday’s press conference. “All those details will come in time, but for right now, it’s about really trying to protect the families, to unite the families and to deal with the situation they’re in. I think that’s the most important thing.”

 

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