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Tourists killed after duck boat capsized

17 people died in a duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, according to Southern Stone County Fire Protection spokesman Eric Nielsen.

Posted: Jul 21, 2018 4:34 PM
Updated: Jul 21, 2018 4:58 PM

Thursday's sinking of a duck boat in Missouri isn't the first time trouble with the tour vessel turned fatal. At least 39 people have died in duck boat accidents in the past 20 years.

The amphibious vehicles travel on both land and water and are popular tourist attractions in many US cities, but accidents in and out of the water have marred their popularity and forced some companies to shut down their businesses.

Jeffrey Goodman, who has represented people injured in past duck boat accidents, said the vessels should be banned.

"They are dangerous on land and on water. They are death traps and sinking coffins," he told CNN in an email.

The National Transportation Safety Board and multiple duck boat companies, including Ride The Ducks of Seattle, declined to comment for this article. Ride The Ducks Branson is closed while officials investigate the accident on one of its boats.

Here's a brief look at fatal accidents involving the amphibious vehicles:

Branson, Missouri, 2018

Seventeen people are confirmed dead after a duck boat carrying 31 people capsized and sank during a severe thunderstorm on Table Rock Lake.

The "Ride The Ducks" boat embarked on its trip when the weather was calm, the president of the businesses' parent company said, and was making its way back to land when it was overcome by massive waves and strong winds that had picked up due to the weather.

The bodies of all the missing people have now been accounted for and recovered.

Boston, 2016

A 28-year-old woman died after she was struck by a duck boat while riding a motor scooter, according to CNN affiliate WBZ.

Her death led to changes in local duck boat safety laws. Blind spot cameras and proximity sensors are now required on all duck boats, and duck boat operators have to separate the responsibilities of driver and tour guide.

Seattle, 2015

Five international college students were killed when a tour bus and a "Ride The Ducks" boat collided. At least 44 people were injured in the accident, which took place on the Aurora Bridge. All the people who died were bus passengers, police said.

The NTSB concluded that the crash was caused by a the improper manufacturing and inadequate maintenance of a boat part that stopped working, which led to a loss of control of the vehicle. The group had several recommendations, including issuing a recall for the part and for Ride The Ducks Seattle to up its inspection process.

Philadelphia, 2015

A Texas woman was struck and killed by a duck boat while crossing the street, according to CNN affiliate WPVI. Witnesses told police the victim crossed against a red light and was looking down at a mobile device while walking and could have been distracted.

Philadelphia, 2010

Two Hungarian student tourists died when a 250-foot sludge barge towed by a tugboat overran the disabled 33-foot "Ride The Ducks" tour boat on the Delaware River, plunging the amphibious vessel and its 35 passengers and two crew members underwater. The sightseeing "duck boat" was anchored in the shipping channel after being shut down because the boat's operator saw smoke and feared an onboard fire.

The tugboat pilot admitted that he was distracted by his cell phone and laptop for an extended period of time before the collision, that he piloted the boat from the lower wheelhouse -- where he had significantly reduced visibility -- and that he did not maintain a proper lookout or comply with other essential rules of seamanship, according to federal prosecutors. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for his role in the incident.

Hot Springs, Arkansas, 1999

Thirteen people died when a duck boat took on water and sank. Of the 21 people on board, seven passengers and the operator managed to escape, the NTSB said.

The NTSB determined that the vehicle took on water through a loose rubber boot and sank because it didn't have reserve buoyancy, meaning there was nothing to help it float. The agency said that the boat's canopy was a major impediment to the passengers' survival.

Of the seven people found dead inside the vehicle, four were found trapped in the canopy.

One survivor said, "If you had the cover off, everybody would have had a chance," the NTSB report says.

The NTSB recommended that built-in flotation or other measures be mandated for all amphibious vehicles. It also recommended that if a boat has inadequate reserve buoyancy, passengers should be required to wear life jackets and the canopy should be removed.

On Friday, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who has been in Washington since 2007, said the recommendations were never enacted into law. She said she and her colleagues would take a look at possible legislation, possibly as early as next week.

"I'm not going to rest until we get something in the law on a national basis that does a better job of regulating the safety of amphibious vehicles," she said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296745

Reported Deaths: 6783
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19731230
Hinds18881393
Harrison16780282
Rankin12787265
Jackson12643229
Lee9703161
Madison9484203
Jones8005147
Forrest7250138
Lauderdale6847227
Lowndes6033140
Lamar590980
Lafayette5747113
Washington5229130
Bolivar4620124
Oktibbeha442194
Panola432396
Pearl River4193132
Warren4138115
Pontotoc410771
Marshall404492
Monroe3993128
Union396474
Neshoba3822170
Lincoln3564104
Hancock350277
Leflore3389119
Sunflower319286
Tate303374
Pike301796
Scott295271
Alcorn292463
Yazoo290865
Itawamba290275
Coahoma282069
Tippah279565
Copiah279259
Simpson276680
Prentiss271158
Wayne254541
Leake253172
Marion252778
Covington249780
Grenada248578
Adams235078
George232445
Newton231252
Winston221979
Jasper213845
Tishomingo212965
Attala206870
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182770
Clay179251
Stone173029
Tallahatchie171439
Clarke169672
Calhoun158528
Smith153033
Yalobusha145536
Greene127933
Walthall124540
Noxubee123131
Montgomery122939
Perry122235
Lawrence120621
Carroll119025
Amite112235
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102731
Tunica99523
Claiborne99129
Benton93924
Humphreys93027
Kemper90423
Quitman77414
Franklin76219
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62827
Wilkinson62427
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 498076

Reported Deaths: 10094
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson716711387
Mobile36294737
Madison32616468
Tuscaloosa24340421
Montgomery22739519
Shelby22174218
Baldwin19873289
Lee15039157
Calhoun13832293
Morgan13753254
Etowah13390325
Marshall11448211
Houston10124264
Elmore9483190
Limestone9420138
St. Clair9022227
Cullman8984182
Lauderdale8612214
DeKalb8489175
Talladega7606165
Walker6585259
Jackson6545104
Autauga632492
Blount6236127
Colbert6001121
Coffee5264103
Dale4671107
Russell406933
Franklin399878
Covington3993106
Chilton3898103
Escambia379173
Tallapoosa3622143
Clarke344053
Chambers3431111
Dallas3422142
Pike293373
Marion288695
Lawrence284985
Winston258368
Bibb246160
Geneva240370
Marengo238857
Pickens225457
Barbour213651
Hale212269
Fayette202057
Butler201466
Henry183541
Cherokee178039
Monroe166739
Randolph164840
Washington156836
Macon147745
Crenshaw146255
Clay145954
Cleburne139841
Lamar133733
Lowndes132751
Wilcox122925
Bullock117336
Conecuh107024
Perry106127
Sumter99732
Coosa90224
Greene88532
Choctaw55323
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