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NTSB Lays Fault in Deadly Duck Boat Sinking

Weather warning wasn't relayed to Ride the Ducks captain
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2020 12:33 PM CDT

(Newser) – The 2018 sinking of a duck boat in southwest Missouri that resulted in the deaths of 17 people could've been avoided had closer attention been paid to the weather. That's the takeaway from a summary of the National Transportation Safety Board's final report on the accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson on July 19, 2018, per NPR. That day, "the National Weather Service accurately forecasted and issued timely notifications of a severe thunderstorm that would impact the accident location," reads an abstract of the unpublished report. Yet Ride the Ducks' managers failed to relay the warnings to the captain of the duck boat known as Stretch Duck 7, CNN reports. The modified World War II-era landing vessel took on water as it was caught in winds topping 65mph some 35 minutes after leaving the dock.

The report found a "systemic problem with [Ride the Ducks, operated by Ripley Entertainment] as a whole" but also noted recommendations handed down following a tragic incident 20 years prior weren't fully instituted by the US Coast Guard. The NTSB issued 22 recommendations following a 1999 duck boat sinking in Arkansas. Nine were adopted, but "a key recommendation to add 'reserve buoyancy' to the boats, allowing them to stay afloat after taking on water," wasn't, reports NPR. NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt now says duck boats should be barred from operating until the recommendations are implemented. Fixed canopies, which investigators said "impeded passenger escape from the Stretch Duck 7," are also to be removed. (More on the tragedy here.)

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