The Solitaire

Duck Boat Tragedy

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Melissa Van Keuren

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School is back and summer vacation has come to a close, but for some, it ended in tragedy. On July 19, a duck boat in Table Rock Lake near Branson, MO, capsized during a storm and killed 17 people. Many were saddened by this accident, but some were not surprised according to usatoday.com.

Modern safety regulations were not up to date for these versatile World War II vessels. Life jackets were never required, according to cnn.com. Despite the storm warning in the area prior to departure, the boat continued on its course into the lake.

“One of the most prominent things I found was the exhaust being in front of the vessel, which, according to Department of Transportation standards, would not pass regulation. The exhaust has to come out past the passenger compartment,” mechanical inspector Steven Paul said, according to cnn.com. “With the exhaust coming out the front and going down below the water line, the waves are obviously pushing water up in that exhaust. If water gets in the exhaust the engine is eventually going to stop.”

Duck boat accidents are not something new, as over 40 deaths have occurred all over the country since 1999 according to kark.com. Missouri, Pennsylvania, Washington, Massachusetts and even Alaska are home to some of the most tragic duck boat accidents, in the United States alone. Furthermore, the problems with duck boat designs, such as the overhanging tarp that can trap victims inside, has been noticed before.

“It is an absolute disgrace that those fatal designs were, in a very public way, pointed out over 16 years ago,” Philadelphia attorney Andrew Duffy said, according to kansascity.com “And the duck boat industry did nothing. And that is outrageous.”

One of the survivors, Tia Coleman, has also commented on the lack of consideration for safety by the crew of the vessel. The only survivors from her family of 11 were herself and her 13 year old nephew. After the tragedy, she was transferred to Cox Hospital in Branson for moderate injuries, according to mshp.dps.missouri.gov.

“The captain did say something about life jackets,” Coleman said. “He said, ‘Above you are the life jackets, there are three sizes, but you won’t need them,'” Coleman said, according to cnn.com “When that boat is found, all those life jackets are going to be on there because nobody pulled one off.”

Coleman is currently suing the duck boat company on nine counts of wrongful death, one for each member of her family. The lawsuit is for $100 million in compensation. She mentioned in one interview that the crew was aware of the storm beforehand since they tracked the weather and a storm warning had been in progress for at least half an hour before entering the lake.

Since the accident, Ripley Entertainment Inc. has yet to make any official comments on the accusations of ignoring safety regulations. Their only response is changing their homepage to a memorial photo and has only one option available, ticket refunds, all of which is available to see at bransonducks.com.

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Duck Boat Tragedy