Duck boat accident, Branson, MO (video)

The Sentinel

Update: 17 Dead, 7 Injured in Branson Boating Accident

“Branson” was trending on Twitter Friday morning for a reason no one would have wanted or anticipated. As a result of a storm on Table Rock Lake, 17 people were killed and seven more were injured.

Live video shows a storm turning the normally placid lake into a howling sea. The storms passed through the area about 7 p.m., and a duck boat with children on board capsized and sank in the waves.

Among the dead was the driver of the Ride the Ducks boat, but the captain and thirteen others managed to survive when the boat sank. Reportedly, winds were blowing as hard as 65 mph.

Jim Pattison Jr., the president the duck boat tour company,  told “CBS This Morning” that, given the conditions, the boat should not have been out on the lake.

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46 Responses to Duck boat accident, Branson, MO (video)

  1. stella says:

    Jack Cashill lives in Kansas City.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sharon says:

    Just heartbreaking – and worse because it does appear the boat should simply not have gone out….. life-changing mistakes that don’t allow for do-overs…..

    After seeing the first reports last night and then again this morning, my thoughts keep going to the devastated survivors and family members across the country being notified…. “If only we hadn’t…..if only they hadn’t…..we should have…..”

    Just heartbreaking.

    Liked by 3 people

    • michellc says:

      The youngest victim was only a year old. I think of all the times when my kids were little and rode the ducks. Just last year we took our grandson to ride the ducks.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. auscitizenmom says:

    This is just unbelievable. The boat shouldn’t have been out.

    Like

  4. czarowniczy says:

    From what I’m hearing the lake was fine, this was a freak storm that blew in from nowhere. Those DUKWs are notoriously unstable in rough seas and I can’t see a driver taking one out in water that’s already rough. Either way the lawyers are probably gathering like flies.
    We have a few DUKWs for flood use, they work great in that role but I think we might start seeing fewer of these doing tours.

    Like

    • michellc says:

      Actually we had been following the storm and they knew it was coming, it was in Springfield heading their way. They were already under a wind advisory as well as a T-storm warning. We were watching because we had friends camping in Branson and knew they probably were not paying attention. We had already let them know a storm was heading their way. I don’t know who made the call to go out, but as I watched the video I knew the rain had already started when I saw the windows up.
      I’ve rode them numerous of times over the years and the windows are never up, which actually they’re not so much windows as much a rolled up plastic that is let down. The first time I watched it’s nose plunge under and water cover it I was already thinking why the heck aren’t they jumping out of that thing.
      I just saw a report that the sheriff said he didn’t know if they had life jackets on. How could you not know that? Before they plunge into the water, they go over all the safety stuff and the life jackets are at the back of the boat, easy to get to. They’re not the best, just the old fashioned orange vests you put around your neck, but still better than nothing.

      I also read they had to wait, the duck boat in front the propeller wasn’t working so they had to wait for them to bring them another duck and the one that sank was behind them making them having to wait as well.
      I figure they probably thought they could beat the storm because they don’t go far out into the water before they circle around and come back.

      I doubt I will be riding them anytime in the near future having that picture of the boat sinking in my mind.

      One poor lady lost 9 of her family members, she and her nephew were the only 2 of the 11 that survived.

      Liked by 1 person

      • auscitizenmom says:

        That is so awful.

        Like

      • czarowniczy says:

        I don’t like DUKWs unless they’re riding (as in Katrina) in waters I can walk out of if it tips. They were never known for their stability and they’re a danger when driving on the road.
        Then again some of our swamp tours are in flat boats too close to the water. I’ve been waiting for one to tip for any number of reasons or one of those ‘tame’ gators they’ve been feeding marshmellows to for so long they come to the boat when they hear it to jump in. Or some large slimy moc’ looking for a hitchhike.

        Like

        • michellc says:

          I think a lot of mistakes were made, from ignoring the warnings, to not watching the storms. These things never get far from shore when they go into the water, you only spend about 10 minutes on the water. It always takes about 30 minutes to get to the lake, 10 minutes on the water and then 30 minutes back.
          They’re saying the driver was operating the boat and not the captain. The driver drives it to the lake while the captain is entertaining everyone and pointing out landmarks. They always claim the captain is licensed by the coast guard. He takes over when you get to the lake and drives it into the water.

          I also will never understand why they didn’t jump off. It had already plunged under water twice before the third time when it sank. It also sounds like they didn’t have on life jackets when they say they don’t know if anyone had them on or not.
          We’ve also never been on one with that many people, it’s usually around 20 to 24.

          I watched the videos on FB and was screaming the first time they plunged under to get off. I watched it before I knew it had sank. It was the most horrible thing I ever watched. It sank and nobody was surfacing.

          It also looked like it was taking water after the first plunge and especially after the second plunge it was sitting lower in the water.

          It breaks my heart and I can’t imagine how scared those poor little kids were.

          Liked by 1 person

          • czarowniczy says:

            Theose DUKWs were built on a truck frame, they’re a chimera. I wouldn’t go out in one on open water if I were the only passenger.
            Most folks are not btrained to deal with panic, they freeze for a number of reasons. I imagine that the kids peril froze family members – “whatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdo?” and that unfamiliar pitching motion with water sloshing over the side just helped the panic.

            Like

            • michellc says:

              I was never really afraid of them for the fact you didn’t go far from shore. That’s why this is so nuts, it makes me wonder if they go farther out now than they did? Did the waves send them farther out?

              I’ve been raised on lakes and rivers, I would have bailed after the first plunge regardless of what the “captain” was saying.

              I would imagine once the lawyers get finished “Ride The Ducks” of Branson will be a thing of the past.

              Like

              • czarowniczy says:

                I watched a large double-hulled barge on the river go under within about three minutes of getting hit by waves from a sudden storm. We were on the Mississipi ferry, approacing the dock and the barge was tied to a tug about 200 feet upriver. The ferry captain saw what was going on and held us off for safety. The crewman on the tug saw the rapidfire waves cresting the barge, grabbed an ax, ran over to where the barge was tied to the tug, hacked the ropes and – slurp – the barge just disappeared between the waves.
                I thought that the water at the riverbank was shallow but when the we docked the captain came downstairs and told us the river’s over 40-feet deep at the bank – and a couple of hundred in the middle. Why I never joined the Navy.

                Liked by 1 person

                • michellc says:

                  The worst that ever happened to us was when I was a kid and we were out on the boat checking trot lines.
                  This storm starting building right over the top of us, before we made it back the waves were sloshing over us, lightning bolts everywhere then we hit a stump under the water knocking a hole in the boat. We all had on the orange life jackets, all you had in those days and were bailing water. We made it back in one piece, but it took awhile before I wanted to go back out and check trot lines again.

                  Like

                  • czarowniczy says:

                    One ferry captain, Miller the Killer, would love to cut the ferry right into the huge wakes of the ocean-going ships running the river. He ‘d particularly like to do it when there were tourists riding the ferry and standing at the bow. We regulars knew what was coming so we’d stop reading, roll up our windows and wait for the wave to was over the bow, the tourists and our cars.

                    Like

            • stella says:

              The only boat I have been on that tipped over was a Hobie cat, and it went completely upside down. As soon as we saw it was going, my friend and I jumped. Of course, on a Hobie, you’re close to the water anyway.

              Like

              • czarowniczy says:

                To cut my chances of doing so I never joined the Navy and avoid anything that floats on water larger than my aluminum flat boat.

                Liked by 1 person

              • michellc says:

                I have been in a canoe that turned over, it wasn’t that bad though as the water wasn’t that deep. My husband who swims like a fish refuses to get on a canoe. I guess when he was a teen he was on the river in a canoe and it turned over and he came up fighting the swift water to only be trapped under the canoe.

                Like

        • michellc says:

          Now one survivor is saying that they were told they would be okay and didn’t need life jackets.

          Like

          • czarowniczy says:

            Yeah, for nearly 20 years I used the ferry to cross the Mississippi in an active shipping zone. A few times the ferry – not while I was on it – was hit by other ships but the old life preservers (those same perfunctory orange ones) were never deployed. They were stored in long metal buns up around roof level and were ‘deployed’ by pulling a lever that dumped a hundred of more onto the deck. All life vests seem to be a perfunctory thing meant more to meet a Coast Guard reg.

            Like

            • michellc says:

              These are all hung up at the back of the boat. When my kids were little and we’d ride it we always brought much better life vests for them. We had a young girl once tell us we couldn’t bring them on and I told her to give me my money back then because anything can happen on water and my kids were going to have decent life vests for the what if.

              When you’re practically born on the river, you have respect for water.

              Liked by 1 person

              • czarowniczy says:

                I saw stuff on thbe Mississippi that gave the great respect. We’d sit at a restaurant atop a building on the river and see, during high/fast water times, huge trees just being carried down. We’d be on the ferry downtown and the captain I knew would bring us to the wheelhouse where we’d see huge whirlpools he’d tell us frequently build mountains of mud closer to the shore that ships will hit and almost stop dead.
                Ocean ships come up the river, cargo and huge oil tankers. Where they takle the big bend on the east side of downtown NOLA they’ve already been fighting the current but that turn really lets the current pound them. We had tourist riverboats hit by them (they lose their steering or props), had them ram the docks (the Brightfield took out a large chunk from the Riverwalk mall) and one would have sunk a Navy destroyer docked at the mall, drowning a few hundred sailors sleeping on it, had not tugs in the river heard the ship’s distress signal and rammed it, pushing it back so much it only cut a huge gash above the waterline.
                Yup, that’s why I never joined the Navy.

                Liked by 1 person

                • michellc says:

                  Living near a lake now I see people doing such stupid things all the time. Riding sea-doos without life jackets on. By the bridge the water is always choppy anyway and then of course the dummies flying through the water because they don’t think wake rules apply to them cause it to be even choppier.
                  The other day I was driving across the bridge and saw a boat pulling two boys on a tube and neither had on a life jacket.

                  A lady drowned last year when she fell off her boat without a life jacket, went under and never came back up. After the investigation it became known, she along with her boyfriend were drunk and they had 3 kids all under the age of 6 on the boat with them, none with a life jacket on.

                  Then a guy drowned fishing down below the dam because he ignored the warning sirens that sound off several times before they open the dam, they start blaring them 45 minutes before they open it. Another one almost drowned for the same reason and then emergency crew had to risk their own life to save him.

                  I saw in the paper the other day how Oklahoma had a record drowning deaths so far this summer. I thought when I read it, “because people get dumber every year.”

                  Like

                  • czarowniczy says:

                    Every now and then some fool thinking the Mississippi’s a swimming area jumps into the river off the bank or a ferry and tries to swim it. A lotta times they luck out and swim back but a peaceful as it looks from the surface it’s goits dem biiiiig currents below and if the jumper’s unlucky that same current that tosses those huge trees around like toothpicks will grab ’em.
                    Coast Guard maintains charts that show where bodies end up downriver according to waterflow and where the dummy went in. They just go down there and wait…

                    Like

                • stella says:

                  On the Great Lakes, the big ore boats travel Lake Michigan, then the Soo Locks, then Lake Huron, the St. Clair river, Lake St Clair, the Detroit River, etc. There is a town called St. Clair, which is on the river of the same name.

                  One time an ore boat rammed into the shore. It so happened that a friend of mine was staying at the St. Clair Inn, where the boat hit, and he said he was sure that it was coming into the Inn! Those boats are huge, and when you meet one on the lake or river in your 30 or 40′ boat, they make you feel tiny.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • czarowniczy says:

                    Yeah, at high water you can stand on Decatur and the huge oceancargo and cruise ships that come up the river seem to be above you. Just waiting for the day one of these behemoths lose power and ram a downtown levee letting the river in.
                    The city used to have one of, if not the, longest contiguous series of docks in to world and warehouses to go with them but by now most of the docks are crumbling and warehouses being turned into tourist stuff. We don’t get the same number of ships docking in town as we once did but we get a goodly number coming through – it’s just a matter of time.

                    Like

          • auscitizenmom says:

            If I had taken children out on the water like that, they would have had life jackets on, no matter what I was told.

            Like

            • michellc says:

              I do not like to blame victims, but people need to be smart. I can understand you’re on vacation and you not thinking of life jackets. However, it is law a life jacket must be on board for every person on board including children.
              As soon as the water became choppy why on earth nobody grabbed a life jacket is beyond me. Why the captain didn’t pass them out or order them on is beyond me.

              So many mistakes made that cost so many lives.

              Liked by 1 person

            • michellc says:

              This whole thing is heartbreaking and it hits close to home because of how many times we’ve been on them.
              The kids are always so excited on the road trip to the lake, bouncing in their seats blowing their quackers at pedestrians.
              Those that have rode it before can’t wait for the plunge into the water and knowing once in the water they get to play captain and drive the boat.
              These kids instead of a fun filled day of memories lived a nightmare before they drowned because adults were stupid. It is the responsibility of adults to use those smartphones they constantly look at to look at the weather report. It is the responsibility of the owners and staff to heed warnings.

              I live in Oklahoma I get often the weather folks cry wolf, but this was easy to see it wasn’t crying wolf, Springfield is not that far away and they could have opened their phone and seen the beating they just took that was now heading straight for them.

              Liked by 2 people

            • Sharon says:

              I saw one comment/explanation somewhere yesterday pointing out that if they had had life jackets on, that would have added to the difficulty of getting out and to the surface, because the life jackets would be pushing each person up against the ceiling/roof as the water got deeper.

              This was a mess destined for tragedy. I really don’t think having the life jackets on in this situation would have helped – since the sides and top were closed, I don’t see how anyone could have “jumped for it” – – –

              No one would ever, EVER, get me into such a small, enclosed boat – even on calm water.

              I even marvel at the sight of ferries running to and fro and nobody wearing life jackets…..everyone is assuming nothing will go wrong and that’s a good way to get killed dead, in my opinion.

              Like

              • auscitizenmom says:

                I didn’t know there were closed windows. What a horrible situation.

                Like

              • michellc says:

                The windows are actually plastic that are rolled down, on some of them I’ve been on they’re secured with velcro, others snap. When I saw those plastic windows flapping I knew it had to have been raining, never have I been on one that had the windows rolled down. In the past they only rolled down the windows in town if it was raining or cold. Unless Ripley has changed the policies and added air conditioning it would be unbearable to be on them in the kind of heat we’re having with it closed up like it was.
                I still say I would have jumped ship the first time the nose plunged, being on these things before I know how the water splashes in when just a passing boat drives by. I can just imagine how much water was coming in with waves like those.
                I see how once it sank the canopy could have caught them when they floated up with life jackets, but regardless of what I was being told I would have bailed before then.

                I never knew until now they’ve been warned for years to remove the canopy.

                I told my husband this morning we were also naive all these years and just assumed from them telling you the “captain” was certified by the coast guard that they knew what they were doing.
                They have also moved the life jackets from what the survivors are saying where they were at from where they used to be.
                I know the one lady is saying they were told they were told they were going to do the water tour first then the land tour to beat the storm. That still makes no sense, you get on the ducks on the strip, you still have to drive out of town to get to the lake, it’s not going to save that much time by not pointing out landmarks unless you ride the ducks that are based downtown that go out on Lake Taneycomo.
                These things drive slow on land and on water and even taking all the colored routes traffic is still bad in Branson in the middle of summer.
                Ripley said the tours were at 6 and 6:15, yet she says her tour was at 6:30, so even if you were in a car the best time we’ve ever made from the 76 strip to the Branson Belle is 15 minutes. The warning was out well before they made it to the lake.
                Now you have campers who are saying the storm was there when they went in the water.

                Something else I’m hearing is they no longer show tourists how to put on the life jackets, yeah you’d think it would be self explanatory but some people go on these things that have never been on a boat before or even in the water and these are the old kind not what many are accustomed to now.

                Liked by 2 people

  5. michellc says:

    Locals are saying since Ripleys bought the ducks in December things have changed for the worse. That now they overload the boats and never want to postpone rides regardless of weather conditions.

    Like

  6. lovely says:

    Terribly sad.

    Like

  7. Sharon says:

    Michelle’s reports of the needless water deaths reminds me of the same kinds of deaths in Minnesota – in the fall heading into winter. Three or four yahoos who should absolutely know better always have to try crossing some lake with their snowmobile when the air temperature is around 10 degrees or something, and the lake is covered with ice – a thin sheet. And then they go through the ice and then they die.

    And then when blizzards have closed the roads (including the interstates) some people drive around the barriers anyway – because they “just have to get somewhere”. It’s been many years since they finally passed legislation that provides for county and local LEOs/emergency responders to bill all of the costs of rescue to anyone they save who bypassed a barrier in order to get on the road.

    Don’t want to have a “blame the victim” mentality but, on the other hand, I don’t necessarily consider such people victims.

    Liked by 1 person

    • stella says:

      Happens every spring here with the ice fishermen on Lake St. Clair or Lake Erie. Idiots are out there after a thaw, and they end up on an ice floe, or their truck or snowmobile goes under. Usually they don’t die, but the idiots are just lucky.

      Liked by 1 person

    • auscitizenmom says:

      In San Diego, when they have the bad rains in winter, they put up barriers to keep people from driving into the San Diego River. It is completely dry most of the year. Heck, I lived there probably 10 years before I knew it was a river. Anyway, they had such a problem with having to rescue people out of the heavy flow of water, that they passed a law that if you ended up in the river, they would pull you out and you went straight to jail. It worked. People still went in, but the numbers were much lower.

      Like

  8. Sharon says:

    https://www.kansascity.com/news/state/missouri/article215219170.html

    This article documents the inherent difficulty of anyone getting out of one of these things when it sinks, particularly if people are wearing life vests.

    The NTSB apparently identified that as a specific risk some years ago.

    Like

    • Sharon says:

      Here’s an excerpt from the article:

      “‘It’s sort of like getting out of an airplane,’ Robert Mongeluzzi, a Philadelphia attorney who has brought lawsuits against duck boat operators, told The Star early Friday morning. ‘This is not an open-sided boat where everybody can just pitch themselves over the side readily.’

      “Experts say canopies or other coverings on duck boats, which ride low to the water, create undue difficulty for passengers trying to escape if the vessel sinks below the surface, whether they have life preservers or not.”

      Like

      • michellc says:

        One of the girls that survived said that she tried to get a life jacket down and couldn’t. I don’t know when they moved them overhead, so don’t know how they’re secured now. She and others are saying the captain was freaking, but did finally release the canopy, which was how the survivors made it to the surface.
        I never really thought much about the canopy because the windows are so wide and tall it would be easy to jump out. I honestly never thought about sinking, but did think about turning over. You can just hang your arm over the side and have your hand in the water. That’s how low they sit in the water.
        I was talking to a family member that rode one in the fall a few years back and asked her about the windows in cooler weather, we’ve never rode one in cooler weather. She said they had the windows down on the land tour, but the captain rolled the windows up before they went into the water and then put them back down when they exited the water.

        Liked by 1 person

        • michellc says:

          I’m trying to find some pictures we have around here while we were on them to show how wide the windows actually are, again I’ve never been on one with the windows rolled down, but without them it’s easy to get off the side.

          Like

            • michellc says:

              Looking through these pictures there is one submitted last month that shows how the life jackets are secured now. That is new since I rode one and I could see how that might be a chore to get one down. They’re also a different kind of life jacket than they did have.

              Like

              • auscitizenmom says:

                I would be surprised if even one of those people on the tour could swim. And, getting the life vests down and putting them on a bunch of kids would probably have been an effort in futility. The children, at least, should have already had them on. My heart just breaks for that mother who was saved, but lost her husband and all three children.

                Like

                • michellc says:

                  For starters they should never have taken those boats out, it wasn’t hard to see the damage that storm was doing on it’s path towards you.

                  I live in Oklahoma so I get how you start ignoring T-Storm warnings, but not when you’re going on water. Heck I don’t even go bank fishing if we’re under warnings, much less going out in a boat.

                  That was the first mistake or possibly the first mistake. I think the first mistake might have been not showing those people how to get the life jackets down and how to put them on as it sounds like that was not done.

                  The next mistake was as soon as the waves started engulfing the boat they should have been ordered to put them on and if I had been on that boat I would have been telling them to jump over regardless of what the captain or driver was saying. It’s a miracle the other one didn’t sink as well.

                  Rolling down those windows was another huge mistake.

                  Like

        • auscitizenmom says:

          I am very uncomfortable putting my life in the hands of people I don’t know. You don’t know if you can trust their judgement. When I lived near San Diego, after my divorce, I was dating a really nice guy. He asked me to go to Baja Cal., Mexico with him and his friends. I had met his friends and they were very nice, stable, family people. He said they were furnishing everything. So, I asked about water. He said they would have that too. I declined the invite, because he was counting on other people, in other vehicles to take care of him. Some people had died not too long before then by getting separated from people they were traveling with and not having any provisions in the desert.

          Liked by 1 person

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