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As Death Toll Hits 17, Questions Rise About Weather Warning

National Weather Service warned of severe storm, but it's unclear if duck boat knew
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2018 11:42 AM CDT
As Death Toll Hits 17, Questions Rise About Weather Warning
A park ranger patrols an area Friday, July 20, 2018, near where a duck boat capsized on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(Newser) – Four more bodies have been recovered from Table Rock Lake, bringing the confirmed death total to 17 in Thursday night's boat capsizing near Branson, Missouri. CNN reports that all of the missing have been accounted for after the tragedy involving a popular duck boat, which got caught in a particularly violent storm. That means 14 people survived, at least seven of whom were injured. Related coverage:

  • The weather: The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the area—it specifically mentioned Table Rock Lake—at 6:32pm, reports the Kansas City Star. It is not clear what time the duck boat began its 70-minute trip, but the first distress calls came in about 7:10pm. Whether the duck boat knew of the warning before it set out will surely be a big part of the investigation.
  • A local's view: “They never should have been out on the water,” a 25-year resident tells the Star. “We knew a storm was coming in. I feel like it’s a tragedy that should not have happened.”

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  • The company: Jim Pattison Jr., president of Ripley Entertainment, which owns the Ride the Ducks company, tells CBS News that he's still not sure exactly what happened. "I don't have all the details, but to answer your question, no, it shouldn't have been in the water if, if what happened, happened," he said. "To the best of our knowledge—and we don't have a lot of information now—but it was a fast-moving storm that came out of basically nowhere."
  • Video: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a link to video showing the Ride the Ducks boat moments before it capsized in the high waves.
  • Previous tragedies: If disasters involving duck boats—which are amphibious vehicles—sound familiar, that's because they've happened multiple times. USA Today rounds up details on four such incidents, including a sinking in 1999 in which 13 people died. The AP counts more than 40 deaths in accidents involving duck boats since 1999.
  • Damning quote: "Duck boats are death traps," says attorney Andrew Duffy, whose Philadelphia law firm handled litigation related to two fatal accidents there. "They're not fit for water or land because they are half car and half boat."
(Read more boating stories.)

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