Duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri, leaves 13 dead after severe storm

Rescue boats are seen on July 20, 2018 at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo. At least 13 people, including children, are dead after an amphibious duck boat capsized on a lake at this tourism hot spot during a severe thunderstorm.
Nathan Papes, Springfield News-Leader via USA TODAY Network
BRANSON, Mo. — At least 13 people, including children, were killed when an amphibious duck boat capsized on a lake at this tourism hot spot during a severe thunderstorm.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace said divers found two more bodies early Friday as authorities resumed search and rescue operations at dawn on Table Rock Lake, raising the death toll from 11 to 13.

The Ride the Ducks tourist boat, a hybrid land and water vehicle, sank with 31 people on board on Table Rock Lake near the Showboat Branson Belle, according to Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader. 
At least four people remain missing.
Four adults and three children were being treated late Friday at Cox Medical Center Branson, hospital spokeswoman Kaitlyn McConnell said. Two adults were in critical condition; the others were treated for minor injuries.
► July 19: 11 dead in Branson, Missouri, after tourist boat accident
The National Transportation Safety Board investigators were expected to arrive Friday morning.
Duck boats, which can travel on land and in water, have been involved in other deadly incidents in the past. Five college students were killed in 2015 in Seattle when a duck boat collided with a bus, and 13 people died in 1999 when a duck boat sank near Hot Springs, Arkansas.
In 2010, a distracted tug boat pilot, who had been on his cell phone or laptop because of a family emergency, rammed a barge into a stalled duck boat in the Delaware River, in Philadelphia, throwing 35 people into the water. Two Hungarian students died in the incident.
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 only accident in more than 40 years of operation.
Branson is about 200 miles 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. 
An off-duty sheriff’s deputy was working security at the scene when a line of severe thunderstorms blew through the area between 6:15 and 6:30 p.m., and was able to start rescuing people almost immediately, Rader said. Recovery efforts that included teams of divers continued after dark.
A second duck boat on the lake in southwest Missouri, about 225 miles southwest of St. Louis, made it safely to shore. U.S. military in World War II originally used duck boats to transport troops and supplies, and later they were modified for use as sightseeing vehicles.
The storm Thursday night in Branson hit the lake with 80 mph winds that kicked up waves 5 feet high, said Capt. Jim Pulley, owner of Sea Tow Table Rock Lake.
“Western Taney County has got divers in the water where the duck boat went down,” Pulley said. “The ducks have a ramp access where they put in, and when the wind hit it pushed the boat right square behind the Branson Belle.”
National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning Thursday evening for the Branson area. Meteorologist Steve Lindenberg said a top wind speed of 63 mph was measured at the Branson Airport near 7 p.m. and likely were stronger over the lake.
“There’s nothing to slow down winds in an open area,” he said.
President Donald Trump, in a tweet, extended his “deepest sympathies” to those affected by the boat accident.
“Such a tragedy, such a great loss. May God be with you all!” he tweeted.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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