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The Latest: Victims of boat accident mourned

July 21, 2018

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — The Latest on a deadly tourist boat accident in Missouri (all times local):

9:35 p.m.

About 300 people gathered in a parking lot outside a tourism business to remember the 17 people killed when one of its duck boats capsized in storm-tossed water.

The mourners Friday night sang Amazing Grace and prayed, some of them holding candles. Another 75 gathered at Brookside Church in Branson to pray.

The Ride the Ducks boat sank Thursday in Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri after a strong storm generated wind gusts of 50 to 65 mph (80 to 105 kph) in the area. The Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Branson is about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Kansas City and is a popular vacation spot for families and other tourists


9:25 p.m.

An Arkansas man and his son are among the 17 people who died when a tourist boat capsized near Branson, Missouri.

Carroll Smith said in a telephone interview Friday that his 53-year-old son, Steve, and 15-year-old grandson, Lance, were killed when a Ride the Ducks boat sank amid churning waters Thursday on Table Rock Lake. The family is from Osceola, Arkansas.

Steve Smith’s wife, Pamela, was with the family on the visit to Branson but did not go on the boat. Steve Smith’s 14-year-old daughter, Loren, suffered a concussion but survived.

Carroll Smith says his son was a retired math teacher who loved old Westerns and was active in his church. Lance would have been a freshman at Osceola High School.


8 p.m.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill says she’ll examine “legislative solutions” to increase the safety of amphibious vehicles like duck boats after the tragedy in Branson.

The Democratic senator didn’t offer specifics after she was briefed Friday evening by officials from the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board. Both agencies are investigating the Thursday evening accident on Table Rock Lake that killed 17 people.

The state’s other senator, Republican Roy Blunt, also was being briefed by the agencies. He said he will monitor the investigation closely and called it “a tragedy that never should have happened.”


7:45 p.m.

A Missouri woman says nine Indiana family members killed when a duck boat sank were put on the ill-fated boat because of a ticket mix-up.

Tracy Beck, of Kansas City, says she and her family were waiting in line for another boat when the Indiana family stopped talking to have a group picture taken by the tour company.

Beck says the ticket taker realized the family should have boarded at a different location in Branson.

The family had to get new tickets and was put on the boat that eventually sank. Beck said she recognized the family When pictures began circulating Friday

Beck says the water became choppy while they were on the lake and the captain decided to return to shore.

But she says she doesn’t blame the operator of the doomed boat.


6:45 p.m.

A survivor of the tourist boat accident that killed 17 people, including nine of her relatives, says the captain of the boat told passengers not to bother grabbing life jackets.

Tia Coleman told WXIN-TV in Indianapolis that she and a nephew were among 11 relatives on a duck boat Thursday night on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri. Coleman says she lost “all my children” but she did not say how many.

Coleman says the captain of the boat told passengers, “Don’t worry about grabbing the life jackets — you won’t need them.”

She says by the time it was clear life jackets were needed, “it was too late.”

An email seeking comment from a spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment, which owns the Ride the Ducks boat, was not immediately returned.


6:30 p.m.

The local hospital’s president says that an employee of a nearby riverboat cruise line stayed with a small child who survived the capsizing of a duck boat on a Missouri lake for hours until the girl’s father arrived.

Cox Medical Center President William Mahoney said the young woman worked for the Showboat Branson Belle. It was near the duck boat when bad weather hit Thursday evening at Table Rock Lake.

Mahoney said the young woman threw a life preserver to try and help as the duck boat sank.

Mahoney said it is not clear how the young woman and the child arrived at the hospital. But he said once they were there the employee stayed with the child until her father came about 5 a.m. Friday.


6 p.m.

A Missouri sheriff has said two duck boats were heading back to land when one of them capsized on a Missouri lake in an accident that killed 17 people.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader disclosed that information in a Thursday night news conference in confirming the first 11 deaths from the accident earlier Thursday evening. The death count rose Friday to 17 after bodies were removed from Table Rock Lake near Branson.

A thunderstorm creating high winds moved through the area Thursday evening.

Rader said one of the two boats on the lake at the time made it back to land.


4:45 p.m.

The nine members of one family who died in the duck boat accident were from Indianapolis, said Thomas Griffith, suffragan bishop of Zion Tabernacle Apostolic Faith Church in Indianapolis. He did not identify them.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s office confirmed that nine of the 17 victims in the accident were from one family and two other family members survived.

The tourist duck boat capsized in stormy weather Thursday night on Table Rock Lake. Twenty-nine passengers and two crew were on board.


4:15 p.m.

A resident of the Missouri tourist town of Branson says she understands how a duck boat got caught on the lake before it capsized because of a sudden change in the weather that day.

Trisha Ayers says Friday that she saw the weather change in 10 minutes Thursday from sunny to gale force winds that were bending traffic signs.

The duck boat capsized Thursday evening on Table Rock Lake with a thunderstorm in the area generating high winds. Seventeen people died.

Ayers called the fatal accident a “fluke” and said she hopes it doesn’t tarnish Branson because most of its income comes from tourists.

She and her family moved to Branson 3½ years ago after visiting regularly from their previous hometown in the Kansas City area.


3:32 p.m.

The president of the company that owns the Branson duck boats says a sudden “microburst” of high winds apparently came up suddenly before one of the boats capsized, killing 17 people.

The accident happened Thursday on Table Rock Lake. The last of the victims were found Friday. Several local, state and federal agencies are investigating.

Jim Pattison Jr. is president of Ripley Entertainment, which owns the duck boat business. Pattison says the captain operating the boat had 16 years of experience, and the business monitors weather.

Pattison told The Associated Press that the water was calm and flat when the amphibious vehicle arrived at the lake, but a sudden storm emerged and “turned it into turbulence.”

Pattison says his company is “sad” and “devastated” by the deaths.


3:25 p.m.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says emergency responders and civilian rescuers helped prevent an even worse tragedy after a duck boat capsized on a lake and killed 17 people.

Parson spent Friday in the Branson area after the boat sank Thursday evening on Table Rock Lake amid high winds. He called the efforts of emergency responders and civilian rescuers “courageous” and said he was inspired by them.

He said people rushed in to help “in extremely dangerous conditions.”

Parson met with Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader and others leading the recovery operation before visiting the Cox Medical Center in Branson to meet with survivors and medical personnel.

The governor pledged the support of all state resources to help in an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard.


3:15 p.m.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the agency has no authority to keep people or boats off of its lakes, even when bad weather approaches.

Seventeen people died Thursday when a Ride the Duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri. The accident happened amid churning waters and stormy weather.

Corps of Engineers spokeswoman Laurie Driver says storms tend to blow up quickly in the region of southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas that includes Table Rock, but the agency must rely on people making their own judgments about the safety of setting out on the water.

Driver says Ride the Ducks of Branson has a permit from the corps to operate on the lake.

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