On Thursday, July 19, a duck boat on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, capsized after taking in water from high waves. The boat was carrying 31 people when a storm rolled into the area and caused very rough waters.
According to local weather stations, a severe thunderstorm warning was put into effect about 30 minutes before the boat capsized and sunk. There had been wind gusts of more than 60 mph reported at Branson Airport at the time of the tragic accident.
Many people are wondering why the duck boat was in the water during a storm, and Ride the Ducks Branson owner, Jim Pattison Jr., has offered some insight into that question.
“My understanding was when the boat went in the water, it was calm. Part way through coming back is when the waves picked up and swamped the boat,” Pattison told CNN via phone.
Pattison also spoke with CBS This Morning, saying that the boat should not have been in the water.
“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. This business has been operating for 47 years and we’ve never had an incident like this or anything close to it. 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 is sort of the verbal analysis I’ve got,” Pattison said.
“Usually the lake is very placid and it’s not a long tour, they go in and kind of around an island and back. We had other boats in the water earlier and it had been a great, sort of calm experience,” Pattison added. “You know, they have a very good record. So, again, this seems to be sort of almost a micro storm effect of something that no one was expecting to happen the way that it did.”
A duck boat is a land-to-sea vehicle that has tires to travel on the road and can drive into water and cruise on a lake or river, just like a boat. The small vessels have a roof and open sides.
Rescue efforts resumed this morning with divers in Table Rock Lake looking for the remaining unaccounted for passengers. Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader has confirmed that 17 people have died in this tragedy. All of the passengers who were aboard the boat have been accounted for at this time. Rader believes the victims died by drowning.