Missouri’s Tragic Duck Boat Accident Kills 11 People

Source: Google images

Source: Google images

Jocelyn Reeder, Reporter

On July 19, 2018, it was a normal summer day in the Ozarks. The Duck boat filled with 29 tourists and two-member crew, cruised through Table Rock Lake.  Next thing they knew the wind capriciously changed from a zephyr to a hard blow, causing the water to churn. A big thunderstorm crashed through; the boat struggled for the docks and then began to capsize. It killed more than half the people on board. By the end of Friday July 20, the authorities recovered 17 bodies ranging from 1 to 76 years old. The captain  survived, but the boat’s driver was killed.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Radar stated to reporters that he believed the boat sank because of the weather. There were two duck boats on Table Rock Lake and only one made it to safety to the docks. Jim Pattison Jr, president of Ripley Entertainment bought the duck boat operation in 2017. He told the interviewers that it appeared the storm came in suddenly on a lake that is “very very flat.” The boat captain had 16 years of experience in driving boats.

Tia Coleman, an Indiana woman lost 9 family members in this tragic accident. She lost her husband, three children, and five other relatives. Coleman’s 13-year-old nephew also survived. “Duck boats are death traps, nobody else should have to go through that.” Her family is currently starting an online petition to make the company “responsible for what they did to my children.”

Suzanne Smagala, a spokesman for Ripley Entertainment said that the company later became aware of the severe weather alert. Meteorologists had been tracking the storm hours before it actually hit. The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch at 11:20 a.m, eight hours before the storm struck. They then issued a severe thunderstorm warning and do not know if it reached the captain of the duck boat.

“We’re absolutely devastated. Our hearts just really go out to everybody, and it’s just something that is very sad,” Pattison stated. Marshall Shephard, a past president of the American Meteorological Society and a professor at the University of Georgia reported, “the tragedy was completely preventable, we have satellites,advanced radars that all showed storms approaching before the boat was on the water.”