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Investigations Reveal That A Boat Accident Could Have Been Avoided

In a story appearing on the  Click2Houston website, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that a duck boat that sank two years ago and killed 17 people would not have happened if the U.S. Coast Guard had made improvements to safety guidelines for tourist attractions.

The NTSB released its final report regarding the accident on Tuesday,  April 28th.  The accident happened on a Ride the Ducks vessel that sank during a sudden storm that rose on Table Rock Lake located near Branson, Missouri. There were 29 people on board the boat at the time.  When the boat sank, a total of 17 people on board the boat died, including the captain of the vessel.  Nine people from the same family were among the victims of the tragedy.

The NTSB found that if the Coast Guard had followed recommendations for small passenger boats following a similar incident in Arkansas in 1999, the accident in Branson could have been avoided. Among the recommendations by the NTSB was the removal of all canopies and side curtains from amphibious tour vehicles or duck boats used in tourist operations. 

In the report, the NTSB also said that had Ripley Entertainment, which owns and operates the Ride the Ducks operation in Branson,  suspended operations that day due weather reports of severe thunderstorm warnings that were issued, the accident would likely not have happened.  

 Despite the storm warnings, Ripley Entertainment continued operations of the ride. The sudden storm hit the lake, and the boat flooded through an air intake hatch located on the bow of the vessel. The hatch was not weather-tight, and the boat sank. 

In a letter dated April 15th, Vice Admiral Daniel Abel, with the U.S. Coast Guard, agreed with the NTSB’s recommendation of removing canopies and curtains from such vessels to increase the likelihood of escape if a boat sinks.

So far, Ripley Entertainment has settled 31 lawsuits filed by those injured in the accident and the survivors of those who died in the tragedy.

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