17 People Are Dead After A Tour Boat Accident In Missouri

At least 17 people — including nine members of one family — were killed on Thursday night after a duck boat sank in rough waters at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri. 

The particular boat was owned by Ride the Ducks, a national sightseeing tour agency that operates a number of similar duck boats, which move along both land and water. Jim Pattison Jr., the president of Ride the Ducks' parent company, Ripley Entertainment, has since stated that the boat that sunk "shouldn't have been in the water." 

Prior to the accident, a severe thunderstorm warning had been issued. The National Weather Service also reported wind gusts of more than 60 mph. Though the National Transportation Safety Board, Coast Guard and other agencies are currently investigating what exactly happened, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said he believed the boat sank because of rough water conditions. The vessel was found about 80 feet below the surface of the lake, resting on its wheels, on Friday. 

A total of 31 people were aboard the boat as it sank. According to The Los Angeles Times, fewer than half survived, and seven were injured. The victims ranged in age from 1 to 76.

The Coleman family from the Indianapolis area was especially affected by the tragedy, as nine members of the family — including four children — were among the victims. According to FOX49, two relatives survived. One of them, Tia Coleman, said the captain of the boat told her family not to worry about grabbing life jackets. 

"My husband would want me to say this – he would want the world to know that on this boat we were on, the captain had told us ‘don’t worry about grabbing the life jackets – you won’t need them’ so nobody grabbed them as we listened to the captain as he told us to stay seated," Tia said. "However in doing that, when it was time to grab them, it was too late and I believe that a lot of people could have been spared."

Per The New York Times, the Coast Guard requires life jackets to be available for each passenger on a boat; however, it's up to the crew to decide when to instruct passengers to wear them. Pattison said Ride the Ducks' boats are always stocked with life jackets, but people don't have to wear them. 

The boat's captain survived and was taken to the hospital. According to the NYT, he had more than 26 years of experience on the lake. Another crew member, who was tasked with driving the vehicle on land, died. 

A vigil was held for the victims on Friday night in Branson. Missouri's governor, President Trump, and more have also offered their sympathies for those affected.