Table Rock Lake duck boat accident

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Table Rock Lake boat accident
USCG Stretch duck 7 crane.jpg
The boat involved in the accident is retrieved from the bottom of Table Rock Lake
Date July 19, 2018; 27 days ago (2018-07-19)
Time Around 7:09 p.m. (CDT)
Location Table Rock Lake, Missouri, U.S.
Coordinates 36°35′16″N 93°19′06″W / 36.58778°N 93.31833°W / 36.58778; -93.31833Coordinates: 36°35′16″N 93°19′06″W / 36.58778°N 93.31833°W / 36.58778; -93.31833
Cause Under investigation; weather and rough waves factors
Participants 31
Deaths 17
Non-fatal injuries 7

On the evening of July 19, 2018, a duck boat operated by Ride the Ducks sank on Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri, in the United States. The amphibious vehicle sank with 31 people on board, leaving 17 dead, during high winds associated with nearby severe thunderstorms. [1][2][3]


The original design of the DUKW did not include a hard overhead canopy.

The DUKW ("Duck" or "duck boat") is a wheeled amphibious vehicle used by the United States military and its allies during the later years of World War II and the Korean War.[4] The vehicles became available in surplus after the Korean War, and a veteran in Minnesota began a business giving rides aboard the vessels to tourists on the Wisconsin River. Over the last 50 years, the practice has expanded to other areas. Several major tourist destinations in the United States feature duck boat tours, including Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.[5]

Before the Table Rock Lake accident, there had been several other fatal incidents involving duck boats,[6] notably one near Hot Springs, Arkansas, on May 1, 1999,[7][8] in which 13 people died. That incident was attributed to several factors, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB); inadequate maintenance was the main cause, with other contributing factors including inadequate reserve buoyancy and the continuous canopy roof over the passenger cabin preventing escape.[9] Among others, recommendations were made for amphibious passenger vehicles to either add additional buoyancy to prevent sinking when flooded, or require passengers to wear life jackets and remove the canopy to allow escape in the event of a sinking.


The accident occurred shortly after 7 p.m. Central Daylight Time on July 19, 2018, as a line of severe thunderstorms approached the Branson area. Approximately an hour prior to the accident, the National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm warning for areas around the lake.[10] It is not known whether the two crew members aboard the vessel were aware of the warning or what action they attempted to take. The National Weather Service reports that winds in the area at the time were in excess of 60 miles per hour (100 km/h), and the storm over the lake was moving very quickly and causing three-foot (one-meter) waves on the lake.[11]

The vessel was one of two owned by Ride the Ducks on the lake at the time,[12] and it began taking on water. The first 911 call was received at 7:09 as the boat was already going under the water, according to the local sheriff.[13] Local officials reported the following morning that all passengers and crew aboard the vessel had been accounted for and confirmed a total of 17 deaths.[14] The ages of those who died in the accident ranged from 1 to 70 years old, and nine were members of a single family.[15] None of the passengers or crew were wearing a life jacket when the boat sank.[16]

Investigation and aftermath[edit]

The boat involved in the accident

The NTSB dispatched investigators to the accident site the following day.[17] In response to previous incidents involving duck boats, the NTSB had issued strong warnings about the design of the vehicles and the danger posed to passengers by their overhead canopies.[18][19][20] Tia Coleman lost nine family members in the accident; she claimed that the crew specifically told passengers not to put on life jackets because they would not need them.[21]

Jim Pattison Jr., president of Ride the Ducks,[22] told the media that the storm "came out of nowhere", then moved through the area and led to the accident.[23][24] The day following the accident, Ride the Ducks announced that the Branson operation would be "closed for business" pending an investigation and out of respect for the victims' families;[25] the company also announced that it will pay for funeral and medical expenses for the passengers on board the boat.[26]

Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, Georgia, suspended their duck boat rides the day after the accident.[27]

The boat was raised from the bottom of the lake by the US Coast Guard on July 23, 2018, after being examined and photographed by divers. Divers also recovered a recording device from the boat, about 80 feet (24 m) below the surface.[28]

A federal lawsuit was filed on July 29, 2018, for US$100 million on behalf of two members of an Indiana family that lost nine people in the accident. The suit accuses Ride the Ducks of ignoring warnings that had been issued about the weather prior to the accident and continuing to use boats with design flaws that made them susceptible to sinking.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NTSB report: Captain of duck boat said he checked weather radar before departing Retrieved July 29, 2018
  2. ^ Two victims leave hospital after Missouri tour boat tragedy. Retrieved July 21, 2018
  3. ^ Missouri duck boat captain told passengers not to don life jackets – survivor. Retrieved July 21 2018
  4. ^ Laud, Georgina. "Missouri boat tragedy: 13 dead – What is a duck boat? Are they dangerous?". Express. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  5. ^ "Branson duck boat accident: What exactly happened in Missouri tragedy". USA TODAY. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  6. ^ "Before 'mass casualty' incident near Branson, duck boats had history of fatalities". Springfield News-Leader. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  7. ^ "13 Dead In Boat Accident". Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  8. ^ "Branson Duck Boat Accident Stirs Memories of Lake Hamilton Tragedy". KARK. July 20, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  9. ^ "Board Meeting : Sinking of the U.S. Small Passenger Vessel Miss Majestic in Lake Hamilton, Hot Springs, Arkansas, on May 1, 1999". National Transportation Safety Board. 2002-04-02. Retrieved July 22, 2018. 
  10. ^ "Duck boat tragedy timeline: First weather alert issued 11:20 a.m. Thursday". Springfield News-Leader. Retrieved 2018-07-23. 
  11. ^ Joyce, Kathleen. "Missouri duck boat capsizes in lake amid violent storm; children among several dead". Fox News. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  12. ^ "17 people killed when duck boat sinks during storm in Missouri, police say". Washington Post. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  13. ^ Hulsey, Joel. "Branson duck boat tragedy: 17 dead, all passengers accounted for". Tegna, Inc. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  14. ^ "Branson duck boat accident: What exactly happened in Missouri tragedy". USA TODAY. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  15. ^ Hanna, Jason; Stapleton, Anne-Claire; Karimi, Faith; Baldacci, Marlena (July 20, 2018). "17 killed in Missouri duck boat sinking ranged in age from 1 to 70". CNN. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  16. ^ NTSB looks at weather reports given to boat crew, KY3 21 July 2018
  17. ^ "President Trump tweets about duck boat tragedy as Missouri leaders work with NTSB". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  18. ^ "Federal agency warned about danger of duck boat canopies before Table Rock tragedy". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  19. ^ "'Death traps': Federal officials have warned about dangers from duck boats for two decades". USA TODAY. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  20. ^ Canis, Bill (July 20, 2018). "Duck Boat Accident Highlights Gap in Regulation" (PDF). CRS Insight. Retrieved 25 July 2018. 
  21. ^ Quinn, David Duck Boat Survivor Says Captain Told Them 'Don't Worry About Grabbing the Life Jackets' People magazine/Yahoo News
  22. ^ "Owner of Branson duck boat company: 'It shouldn't have been in the water'". Springfield News-Leader. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  23. ^ "Death Toll Rises to 17 After Missouri Duck Boat Sinks in Severe Storm". The Weather Channel. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  24. ^ "17 Dead After Missouri Duck Boat Sinks in Severe Storm; 9 of the Dead from Same Family". The Weather Channel. Retrieved July 21, 2018. 
  25. ^ "bransonducks - Ride The Ducks Branson". Ride The Ducks Branson. Ripley Entertainment. Retrieved July 21, 2018. 
  26. ^ Barnett, Daniel. "Duck boat company to pay for funeral expenses, hospital bills for those involved in crash". Retrieved 2018-07-23. 
  27. ^ "Stone Mountain Park suspends duck boats after Missouri tragedy". The Atlanta Journal Constitution. July 20, 2019. Retrieved July 21, 2018. 
  28. ^ Ingber, Sasha Coast Guard Raises Duck Boat That Capsized In Missouri National Public Radio, 23 July 2018
  29. ^ "$100M lawsuit filed on behalf of Branson duck boat victims". KSDK. Retrieved 2018-07-30.