Skip to content

Duck Boat Capsizes in Storm on Missouri Lake, Killing 17 People

Duck Boat Capsizes in Storm on Missouri Lake, Killing 17 People

PHOTO: ABC – A file image of a Ride the Ducks Branson boat, from the company’s website.

A duck boat filled with tourists near Branson, Missouri capsized and sank on July 19th, killing 17 people, including several young children. reports that there were 31 people on board when the boat sank in a violent summer thunderstorm, which seemed to whip up very quickly, bringing 63 mph winds and incredibly choppy water.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson offered his thoughts and prayers to the families of those who lost loved ones in the tragic crash, calling the incident a tragedy.

News reports mention that there were life jackets onboard the vessel, but passengers were not wearing them when the boat capsized. Eyewitnesses in nearby boats shot cellphone camera video of the final seconds before the boat disappeared under the rolling waters of Table Rock Lake in the violent summer storm.

The deadliest duck boat incident before this one happened in May 1999 when the Miss Majestic sank in Lake Hamilton in Arkansas, killing 13 people.

A Potentially Deadly Design Flaw

A design flaw that makes it very difficult for passengers to escape duck boats when they capsize or sink is being singled out as a potential contributing factor in the Table Rock Lake fatalities.

Amphibious duck boats were originally designed 1942 as a way for the U.S. Army to transport supplies, ammunition and other equipment by land and by sea. In recnt year, as the vehicles transitioned to become civilian tourist boats, overhead canopy roofs have been added.

Reuters recently reported that these canopies can increase the risk of entrapment, explaining that a “report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said duck boats’ canopy roof contributed to the 13 deaths in the 1999 incident, on Lake Hamilton in Arkansas.”

Suzanne Smagala-Potts of Ride the Ducks Branson said, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident. This incident has deeply affected all of us. The safety of our guests is our number one priority.”

President Trump tweeted his condolences to the victims and the families of those whose lives were lost: “My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those involved in the terrible boat accident which just took place in Missouri. Such a tragedy, such a great loss. May God be with you all!”

An Investigation is Underway

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the incident in Missouri, according to ABC News.

There were two duck boats in the water at Table Rock Lake when the storm kicked up, but one boat managed to make it to shore. A story in the New York Times reports that duck boats are amphibious vehicles designed to drive on land and float on water that are especially popular in waterfront cities like Seattle, Boston and Miami.

At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones or who were injured in this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been touched by this incident at Table Rock Lake.

Harris Lowry Manton LLP’s personal injury and wrongful death attorneys are concerned about the safety of anyone injured because of someone else’s negligence. If you or someone you love has been injured, please call us today at 404-961-7650 at our Atlanta office, or in Savannah at 912-651-9967, or fill out our contact form.

Related Wrongful Death Articles

Scroll To Top