The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday began the retrieval of a duck boat that sank while carrying tourists on a southern Missouri lake during powerful winds, killing 17 people.
Divers swam down to the Ride the Ducks boat and connected it to a crane, which lifted the boat to the surface just after 10 a.m. CT.
The boat went down Thursday evening in Table Rock Lake on the edge of the tourist town of Branson after a thunderstorm generated near-hurricane strength winds. The boat is submerged in 80 feet (24 meters) of water.
Nine of the people who died belonged to one Indiana family. Others killed came from Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois.
At least one member died from every family aboard a tourist duck boat that sank in Missouri last week, except for a family of nine that all survived.
Mandi Keller said her family’s survival is a “complete miracle.” The Kansas City Star reported that Keller wasn’t aboard the Ride the Ducks boat when it was swamped during high winds Thursday evening.
Missouri State Highway Patrol chaplain Steve Martin called the survival of Keller’s family “remarkable.” There is “no explanation,” he said, adding that the family is suffering from survivors’ guilt.
Divers already have recovered a video-recording device that was aboard the boat, although it’s unclear whether it was working when the boat capsized or whether any data can be retrieved. The recorder is headed to the National Transportation Safety Board lab in Washington, D.C.
Keith Holloway, an NTSB spokesman, said it was unclear what the recorder captured, including whether it recorded audio.
Steve Paul, owner of the Test Drive Technologies inspection service in the St. Louis area, has said he issued a written report in August 2017 for Ripley Entertainment, which owns Ride the Ducks in Branson, after inspecting two dozen boats. In the report, he explained why the vessels’ engines — and pumps that remove water from their hulls — might fail in inclement weather.
Paul said he won’t know if the boat that sank is one that he inspected until it has been recovered from the lake.
Ripley Entertainment, which owns Ride the Ducks in Branson, hasn’t responded to questions about Paul’s concerns.
Suzanne Smagala with Ripley Entertainment, said the company is assisting authorities with the rescue effort and that the accident last week was the company’s first in more than 40 years of operation in Branson.
Copyright Associated Press
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