Eyewitness videos showed an absolutely chilling scene when a sudden storm left two “Ride The Ducks” tourist boats in trouble on Table Rock Lake in Branson, MO yesterday. Unfortunately, one of those boats never made it to shore and ended up capsizing and sinking to the bottom of the lake leaving 17 dead and several injured.
Visitors in Branson report for most of the day yesterday the weather was calm and in the mid-90s, but a storm quickly blew through the area just before 7 p.m. CDT. According to an ABC News report, the boat carried 29 passengers and two crew members. The waves on the lake overwhelmed the amphibious vehicle that drives and land and water, and it sank in 80 feet of water coming to rest on its wheels.
While the boat had life jackets aboard, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said he did not know how many passengers and crew wore them at the time of the incident.
Winds associated with the storm reached higher than 60 miles per hour, and in the video of the lake at the time shows the conditions were extremely rough and the “Ride The Ducks” boats struggled mightily to plow through the choppy waters. The waves overwhelmed the craft, and eventually, it took on so much water that it began to sink quickly. Crew members of the nearby Branson Belle helped by throwing life preservers to victims in the water, according to a Twitter user, Tony Burkhart, who posted an eyewitness video of the event.
We saw high winds + bad weather roll in, so I decided to get a refund and leave with my wife. Headed out, countless first responders + emergency vehicles were going in #Branson to help with the #DuckBoat incident. Branson Belle crew helped toss life preservers to those overboard. pic.twitter.com/71H61ir0Gy— Tony Burkhart (@tonyburkhart) July 20, 2018
On Friday morning, Missouri Governor Mike Parson said of the tragic situation, “Our thoughts and prayers right now are with these family members.”
President Donald Trump also tweeted his condolences on Friday morning. He wrote, “My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those involved in the terrible boat accident which just took place in Missouri. Such a tragedy, such a great loss. May God be with you all!”
A team from the The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) plans to go an investigate the accident. People left flowers and roses in the parking lot and on cars left in the departure area for this Branson attraction in memorial for those who lost their lives.
The Inquisitr reported that these types of boats have experienced incidents in other cities in the past. In May 1999, an amphibious boat sank suddenly on Lake Hamilton in Arkansas killing 11 people. In 2015, five college students died when a watercraft like this experienced a crash with a bus. In several other areas, people have been killed in accidents leading to changes in procedures.
Unfortunately, it looks like last night’s accident in Branson during the storm will end up being the deadliest “Ride The Ducks” accident on record.