Owner says doomed duck boat shouldn't have been in water

But in the end, out of her 11 family members on the duck boat Thursday, only she and her 13-year-old nephew survived the fatal sinking at Table Rock Lake. An initial assessment blamed thunderstorms and winds that approached hurricane strength, but it wasn't clear why the amphibious vehicle even ventured out into the water.

Visitors in Branson report for most of the day yesterday the weather was calm and in the mid-90s, but a storm quickly blew through the area just before 7 p.m. CDT.

Passengers on a nearby boat told ABC's "Good Morning America" that the water became rough as the wind picked up. The National Transportation Safety Board said it has launched an investigation into the accident.

Several community fundraisers and GoFundMe pages have been set up for families of the victims, including members of the Coleman family - but survivors say the healing has only just begun.

Footage recorded at Table Rock Lake showed small duck boats, which can traverse both water and land, struggling against large waves and heavy winds around the time of the disaster.

The deaths and identities of the family members - including four children under the age of 10 - were confirmed by IndyStar via family members Friday evening.

One of the surviving relative told American media outlets that the captain of the boat told the 31 passengers not to put on life jackets. He said life jackets were aboard the boat, but he doesn't know whether people were wearing them.

Commenting on the rescue operation, he said: "Emergency responders and civilian rescuers helped avert an even worse tragedy as people rushed to help in extremely unsafe conditions". Fourteen survived, including seven who were hospitalized.

An off-duty deputy working security helped rescue people, Rader said, without providing details.

Nine members of the Coleman family died in the boating accident on Table Rock Lake near Branson
Nine members of the Coleman family died in the boating accident on Table Rock Lake near Branson

Afterward, the National Transportation Safety Board warned that the boats' canopy roofs presented a hazard, making it hard for people, even those wearing life jackets, to escape if one of the vessels capsized. "Part way through coming back is when the waves picked up and swamped the boat", Pattison told CNN via phone.

"From what I understand, there were life jackets in the duck (boat)", Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said.

He said he believed the severe weather caused the boat to capsize.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, two Hungarian tourists were killed in 2010 when a barge hit a disabled duck boat in the Delaware River.

Ride the Duck's website carries a statement that the company will be "closed for business while we support the investigation".

Seventeen people died when the pleasure boat capsized.

The company Ripley Entertainment owns the capsized boat, having added Branson's "Ride the Ducks" attraction to its roster a year ago. Five college students were killed in 2015 in Seattle when a duck boat collided with a bus; the operation in Branson is separate from Seattle.

The accident was the deadliest known duck boat accident in USA history.

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(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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