What happened is one of Pattison’s amphibious duck boats capsized and sank in high winds Thursday night in Table Rock Lake in Missouri. Seventeen people were killed and another seven were injured in the accident. Officials have yet to determine whether, and how many, passengers were wearing life jackets.
Safety and Storms
While Pattison said the duck boat had life jackets onboard, Missouri law doesn’t require people to wear them. The amphibious boats, originally designed for military use during World War II, are subject to varying degrees of regulation, according to the AP. Weather reports indicate that conditions around the lake had been calm before the accident, but then the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Branson and Table Rock Lake at 6:32 p.m. local time. Local reports indicate a storm hit with 80 mph winds and 5-foot waves just before the incident, around 7 p.m.
“Usually the lake is very placid, and it’s not a long tour,” Pattison told CBS. “They go in and kind of around an island and back, and we had other boats in the water earlier, and it had been a very sort of calm experience up until this came very suddenly.”
Law and Liability
Ripley Entertainment and Ride the Ducks Branson may be facing some lawsuits in the wake of the tragedy. Tour companies can be liable for injuries suffered on their tours or equipment, if they breached a duty of care to their guests, and the breach was the proximate (foreseeable) cause of their injuries.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident that occurred at Ride The Ducks Branson,” the company said on their website. “This incident has deeply affected all of us. Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking. We will continue to do all we can to assist the families who were involved.”