Nine family members among 17 killed in duck boat tragedy

Top: Mourners placing a flower on a duck boat used by the Ride The Ducks tour in Branson, Missouri, last Friday. Above: A candlelight vigil at Life Christian Centre Church in Branson last Friday. Hundreds gathered to pay their respects to the victims
Mourners placing a flower on a duck boat used by the Ride The Ducks tour in Branson, Missouri, last Friday. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Top: Mourners placing a flower on a duck boat used by the Ride The Ducks tour in Branson, Missouri, last Friday. Above: A candlelight vigil at Life Christian Centre Church in Branson last Friday. Hundreds gathered to pay their respects to the victims
A candlelight vigil at Life Christian Centre Church in Branson last Friday. Hundreds gathered to pay their respects to the victims of the duck boat tragedy.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CHICAGO • Nine members of the same family were among 17 people killed when a "duck boat" sank during a sudden storm on a Missouri lake in one of the deadliest US tourist tragedies in years.

A witness captured a video of the amphibious vessel bobbing in rough waters on Table Rock Lake near the city of Branson, a popular holiday destination, last Thursday.

The vehicle was carrying 31 passengers, including children. Ms Tia Coleman said she and her nephew were the only survivors from 11 members of their family who went on the Ride The Ducks tour. "I lost all my children, I lost my husband," she told the Fox 59 TV channel from her hospital bed. "I'm okay, but this is really hard, just really hard."

She said the boat captain told them when they were on the lake not to put their life jackets on, an action she believed cost lives. The crew was warned to get in and out of the lake quickly as a storm was approaching, she added.

The dead ranged in age from one to 70 years old, and included the boat's driver, according to the office of Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader. He told reporters that the boat's captain survived.

"From what I understand, there were life jackets in the duck," Mr Rader said, but he declined to say if the passengers were wearing them.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson said seven of the 14 survivors were injured, one seriously.

Mr Jim Pattison, president of Ripley Entertainment, which owns the the duck tour company, said the strength of the storm was unexpected, but the duck boat should not have been on the lake.

Known for wheels that allow them to ride on land and float low on water, duck vehicles are used on sightseeing tours around the world.

More than three dozen people have died in incidents involving duck boats on land and water in the US over the past two decades.

The National Transportation Safety Board and US Coast Guard are investigating, officials said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 22, 2018, with the headline 'Nine family members among 17 killed in duck boat tragedy'. Print Edition | Subscribe