UPDATE: Death toll rises to 17 after Branson tourist boat sinks

UPDATE: Death toll rises to 17 after Branson tourist boat sinks

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

3:55 p.m.



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First responders on the scene of the lake accident Thursday evening –photo courtesy KYTV

A spokeswoman for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says nine of the 17 people who died in a duck boat accident are from the same family.

Parson spokeswoman Kelli Jones says Friday that another two members of the same family survived when the boat capsized on Table Rock Lake near the tourist town of Branson.

The governor’s office had no other information about the family members. Authorities have not yet identified the victims.

The boat capsized Thursday evening when a thunderstorm hit the area and brought winds that approached near-hurricane speeds.

Twenty-nine passengers and two crew members were on the boat when it capsized. The boat’s driver was among those killed.

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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.

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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.

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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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2:45 p.m.

Doctors believe that two people in critical condition after a duck boat sank in a Missouri lake will survive.

Cox Medical Center spokeswoman Brandei Clifton says “doctors are confident” about their long term prognosis.

The two adults are in critical condition after nearly drowning in the accident Thursday evening.

Cox received seven patients Thursday. Two are those in critical condition, one refused treatment and the remaining four, including three children, were treated for minor injuries such as sore ears and general anxiety.

Clifton says the hospital treated the accident like a mass casualty event and called in extra staff in anticipation of a large number of patients.

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2:40 p.m.

A candlelight vigil is planned to remember the 17 people killed when a duck boat capsized in stormy weather in southern Missouri.

Several pastors will be gathering at 9 p.m. Friday at Brookside Church in Branson, with a previously scheduled fireworks display to follow the vigil and prayers. The Stone County Sheriff’s Office posted details about the vigil on its Facebook page. The post says, “EVERYONE is welcome!”

The Ride the Ducks boat sank Thursday night in Table Rock Lake 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.

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2:05 p.m.

Authorities say it could take several days to raise a duck boat that sank in southern Missouri, killing its driver and 16 passengers.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace says the vessel came to rest in 80 feet of water in on Table Rock Lake. Authorities initially said it would be raised Friday but Pace says it will take several days to get the equipment in place. He says investigators “want to preserve evidence as best is possible.”

Pace says the area has been secured and the investigation turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board and the Coast Guard.

Pace says divers indicated that the water visibility was better than normal, expediting the recovery of the victims’ bodies. They ranged in age from 1- to 70-years-old.

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11 a.m.

Authorities say the final four people missing since a boat capsized on a lake in southern Missouri have been found, raising the death toll to 17.

The office manager at the Stone County Sheriff’s office, Wendy Doucey, confirmed the discovery Friday. The Ride the Ducks boat sank Thursday night in the Lake of the Ozarks near Branson.

The victims’ names haven’t been released.

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

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10:30 a.m.

Authorities are working to recover a duck boat that capsized and sank in a southern Missouri lake, killing more than a dozen people.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said during a news conference Friday that he believes the boat sank in 40 feet  of water and rolled into 80 feet of water. He says the Missouri State Highway Patrol divers have located the vessel, which is on its wheels in Table Rock Lake in the Branson area. Authorities plan to recover the boat later Friday.

He says the first call about the capsized boat came in at 7:09 p.m. Thursday. He says authorities are working to determine what happened and had no information about whether passengers were wearing life jackets or whether they were just stowed onboard.

The victims’ names haven’t been released.
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9:30 a.m.
Authorities say the four people still missing after a duck boat capsized in southern Missouri are presumed dead, in addition to the 13 people whose bodies have been recovered.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader described the search as a “recovery mode for the bodies that are still missing” during a news conference Friday morning.

Rader says the driver of the Ride the Ducks boat died but that the captain survived when the boat sank Thursday night in Table Rock Lock in the Branson area. Thirteen victims already have been found.

Rader says an off-duty deputy aboard the nearby Showboat Branson Belle and others on the riverboat jumped in to help the duck boat’s passengers. He described the rescue effort as “outstanding.”

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

The National Weather Service is warning of a fresh round of thunderstorms, as divers search for four people missing after a duck boat capsized on a lake in southwest Missouri.

Meteorologist Jason Schaumann says some of the storms are expected to churn up large hail and damaging straight line winds when they hit Friday afternoon in the Branson area where the Ride the Ducks boat sank. The bodies of 13 victims already have been found.

Schaumann says wind gusts of 50 to 65 mph (80 to 105 kph) were recorded around the time the boat capsized Thursday night in Table Rock Lake after a severe thunderstorm warning had been issued. He says the weather was calm in the search area overnight and that the area narrowly avoided more storms Friday morning.

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8:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump is extending his “deepest sympathies” to those affected by a Missouri boat accident that has killed at least 13.

In a Friday morning tweet, the president sends his: “deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those involved in the terrible boat accident which just took place in Missouri.”

He adds: “Such a tragedy, such a great loss. May God be with you all!”

Local officials said 14 people survived the sinking of a duck boat and four others remain missing after the accident Thursday evening on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri.

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8:05 a.m.

A witness has described the wind-borne chaos as a duck boat capsized and sank in a lake in southwest Missouri.

Allison Lester told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Friday that the “waters were rough” and “debris was flying everywhere” Thursday evening when the Ride the Ducks boat sank in Table Rock Lake in Branson. Lester was on a nearby boat.

Thirteen people were killed and four others are missing.

Lester’s boyfriend, Trent Behr, says he saw a woman lying in the water and that they pulled her up onto the boat. He says she was unconscious and that he was getting ready to start CPR when emergency responders arrived.

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

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7:30a.m.

Authorities say divers have found two more bodies after a duck boat carrying tourists capsized in southwest Missouri, bringing the death toll to 13.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace says four others remain missing Friday after the accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson Thursday evening. He says 14 others survived, but that seven were injured.

Pace says those who died ranged in age from 1 to 70-years old.

Branson is about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Kansas City and is a popular vacation spot for families and other tourists looking for entertainment ranging from theme parks to live music.

4a.m.

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) – Dive teams are expected to resume the search for five people missing after a tourist boat capsized and sank in a southwestern Missouri lake.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader says at least 11 people, including children, died when the Ride the Ducks boat sank Thursday night on Table Rock Lake in Branson. Seven other people were hospitalized.

Rader says the stormy weather was believed to be the cause of the capsizing. Another boat on the lake was able to safely make it back to shore.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Lindenberg says the agency had issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Branson area, and winds reached speeds of more than 60 mph.

The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that investigators are expected to arrive on the scene Friday.

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BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — At least 11 people, including children, died after a boat carrying tourists on a Missouri lake capsized and sank Thursday night, the local sheriff said.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said five people remain missing and seven others were hospitalized after a Ride the Ducks boat sank on Table Rock Lake in Branson.

A spokeswoman for the Cox Medical Center Branson said four adults and three children arrived at the hospital shortly after the incident. Two adults were in critical condition and the others were treated for minor injuries, Brandei Clifton said.

Rader said the stormy weather was believed to be the cause of the capsizing. Another duck boat on the lake was able to safely make it back to shore.

Steve Lindenberg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Springfield, Missouri, said the agency issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Branson area Thursday evening. Lindenberg said winds reached speeds of more than 60 mph.

“It’s a warning telling people to take shelter,” he said.

Rader said an off-duty sheriff’s deputy working security for the boat company helped rescue people after the accident.

Dive teams from a number of law enforcement agencies were assisting in the effort, but the sheriff said the divers ended their search for the night.

The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that investigators will arrive on the scene Friday morning.

Suzanne Smagala with Ripley Entertainment, which owns Ride the Ducks in Branson, said the company was assisting authorities with the rescue effort. Smagala added this was the Branson tour’s first accident in more than 40 years of operation.

Branson is about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Kansas City and is a popular vacation spot for families and other tourists looking for entertainment ranging from theme parks to live music.

Duck boats, known for their ability to travel on land and in water, have been involved in other deadly incidents in the past. They include one in 2015 in Seattle in which five college students were killed when a boat collided with a bus, and one in 1999 that left 13 people dead after the boat sank near Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Safety advocates have sought improvements to the boats since the Arkansas incident. Critics argued that part of the problem is numerous agencies regulate the boats with varying safety requirements.

Duck boats were originally used by the U.S. military in World War II to transport troops and supplies, and later were modified for use as sightseeing vehicles.

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