A park ranger patrols an area Friday, July 20, 2018, near where a duck boat capsized the night before resulting in at least 13 deaths on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo. Workers were still searching for four people on the boat that were unaccounted for. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The Latest: Boat victims mourned

July 21, 2018 - 5:48 am
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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

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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3:55 p.m.

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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Corrects the name of the lake in 2:05 p.m. item to Table Rock Lake.

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1:50 p.m.

A man who witnessed a deadly Missouri duck boat accident while aboard a nearby riverboat says the storm that swamped the smaller vessel appeared suddenly.

Brayden Malaske, of Harrah, Oklahoma, says no one was worried about the weather when he boarded the Showboat Branson Belle with family shortly before the storm hit Thursday night. He says Table Rock Lake seemed calm but that it "suddenly got very dark."

He says he didn't think the duck boats would have a problem despite the weather because they are repurposed military vehicles. He says that when the duck boat capsized, people aboard the riverboat tried to guide the passengers to safety. He says he saw a woman holding on for "dear life" to one of the riverboat's paddles before being rescued.

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1:20 p.m.

The National Weather Service issued multiple severe weather warnings in the hours before a duck boat capsized in southern Missouri, killing 17 people.

Meteorologist Kelsey Angle says a severe thunderstorm watch was issued for the area around 11:30 a.m. Thursday. The watch indicated that conditions were favorable for the formation of severe thunderstorms with winds reaching 70 mph.

The Weather Service then issued a severe thunderstorm warning at 6:32 p.m. for the three southwest Missouri counties that include Branson and Table Rock Lake. It followed up with a statement at 7:02 p.m. that 70 mile-per-hour winds were possible.

The first 911 calls about the boat capsizing were reported seven minutes later.

Wind gusts in the Branson area reached 50 to 60 mph.

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12:55 p.m.

The mayor of a southwest Missouri city that was the scene of a deadly duck boat accident says she was with the wife of the vessel's driver when she was notified that he had died.

Branson Mayor Karen Best says Bob Williams was driving the Ride the Ducks boat that sunk Thursday night in Table Rock Lake, killing 17 people. She says Williams, also known as Capt. Bob, was a "great ambassador for Branson" and "was at every event."

She says Williams' wife learned of her husband's death at City Hall where victims' families had gathered.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader has said the boat's captain survived.

Mourners have been leaving flowers on cars in the parking lot of the duck boat's business.

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12:10 p.m.

The mayor says residents of and visitors to the southwest Missouri city where a duck boat capsized, killing 17 people, have been donating food, drinks and flowers.

Branson Mayor Karen Best says it's been a "difficult time" since the Ride the Ducks boat sank Thursday night in Table Rock Lake on the outskirts of Branson, but that it's given the tourist community a "chance to step up to help those in pain."

City Hall has become a command center where victims' families and friends can meet with counselors and clergy as well as people who can answer their questions. Red Cross officials are also there to help.

Best says Branson, known as an entertainment center, is usually a city "full of smiles," but that "today we are grieving and crying."

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11:25 a.m.

Investigators with the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating a duck boat accident that killed 17 people in southern Missouri.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Lora Ratliff says the agencies are working "side-by-side" to determine what caused the Ride the Ducks boat to sink Thursday night in Table Rock Lake in the Branson area. NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson says its investigators are arriving Friday.

Authorities are releasing few details, including whether the people aboard were wearing life jackets. The NTSB and Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader are urging anyone with video or photos of what happened to provide them to authorities.

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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 Table Rock Lake on the outskirts of 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 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 (12 meters) of water and rolled into 80 feet (25 meters) 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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8:40 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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7:15 a.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.

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6:40 a.m.

Authorities say six people remain missing after a duck boat carrying tourists capsized and sank on a lake in southwest Missouri.

The Stone County Sheriff's Office updated the number of missing after the accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson Thursday evening from five in a post on Facebook early Friday. The office says 11 people are confirmed dead and 14 survived.

Seven people were hospitalized after the boat capsized and two are in critical condition.

Divers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol will resume searching for the missing Friday.

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12:30 a.m.

A Missouri sheriff says at least 11 people have now been confirmed dead after a boat carrying tourists on a lake in a popular vacation city capsized and sank.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader says seven people have been hospitalized and five others remain missing. He says divers have ended their search of Table Rock Lake in Branson for the night.

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

Rader says stormy weather is believed to be what caused the Ride the Ducks boat to capsize Thursday night.

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

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.

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9:50 p.m.

A sheriff in Missouri says a tourist boat has apparently capsized on a lake, leaving eight people dead and several others hospitalized.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader says the accident occurred Thursday night after a Ride the Ducks tourist boat reportedly sank on Table Rock Lake.

Rader says an off-duty sheriff's deputy working security helped rescue people. He says recovery efforts are ongoing, with some passengers still unaccounted for.

A dive team is assisting.

Rader says weather is believed to have caused the boat to capsize.

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