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Deadly duck boat accident – could it have been prevented? It appears so.

A fatal duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri claims the lives of 17.  Thirty-one people were on board the Ride the Ducks duck boat in Branson, Missouri when the boat capsized and sank due to heavy winds.  There was a severe thunderstorm in the area at the time this duck boat was on the water, the winds were gusting at 60 miles an hour.   The news reports of this tragic accident show the lake had waves similar to waves you would see in the ocean, winds were so strong it created white capping.   A witness that videoed the tragic event on her phone said you could see the weather coming in.  The video showed two duck boats on the water at the time and they were both trying to get back to land, but the duck boat that ultimately sank appeared to be having trouble moving in the water because the waves were so large and the boat was continuously crashing against the waves.  With fierce storms in the forecast, why was this duck boat company operating duck boat tours that day?

As defined by the dictionary:
neg·li·gence:
  1. failure to take proper care in doing something.
    “some of these accidents are due to negligence”
    • LAW
      failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.

These storms were expected to pass through the area, according to the Weather Channel.   So why were the duck boats allowed to go out that day?   Duck boat companies have a responsibility to protect and keep their customers safe.  A duck boat death is always tragic, but when it could have been avoided, that’s negligence.  This tragic event could have – and should have – been avoided.  Ripley Entertainment reportedly acquired this company, Ride the Ducks, in December.

In years past there have been other Duck Boat accidents, one hitting close to home.   On May 1st of 1999 twenty people boarded the Miss Magestic duck boat on Lake Hamilton.  Eleven people drowned and one injured from this duck boat accident.  The NTSB investigation into that tragic accident revealed that seven minutes into the trip the boat began to sink.   That particular duck boat had a hard-top canopy, which trapped the passengers as the boat began sinking.  Six of the passengers, along with the operator, managed to escape as the boat was sinking and swam to the surface.   The NTSB investigated that accident and ruled that the company operating that boat failed to properly maintain and repair the boat.   It was also noted that there was not enough life preservers on board and the roof of the vessel was problematic.  Many lawsuits were filed as a result of the duck boat company’s negligence.

Numerous duck boat accidents have happened over the years.   Could these have been prevented?  It appears from these facts that if the operators/owners had taken some precautions, these accidents may have been prevented.    When you don’t take precautions, that’s negligence.

History of Duck Boat Accidents:

Arkansas – In 1999, thirteen people drowned on Lake Hamilton when the duck boat capsized and sank.  Of the 21 people on board, only 8 survived.    The NTSB ruled that the duck boat company that operated the craft failed to adequately and properly maintain and repair it.   It was also noted that there was not enough life preservers in the vehicle and that the canopy roof of the duck boat was problematic.

Seattle – In 2015, five students were killed, 69 others were injured when the Ride the Ducks craft they were on crashed into a bus.   Ride the Ducks International of Branson, which operated the Seattle boats, was fined $500,000.

Boston – In 2016, a duck boat that was operating on land hit and killed a woman on a scooter and injured another person.  Months after that death caused by a duck boat, another person was struck by a duck boat on land and seriously injured at an intersection in Boston.

The design of the duck boats cause dangerous blind spots for its drivers.

Philadelphia – In 2010, two people died when a duck boat on the Delaware River stalled, and a barge crashed into the stalled duck boat.  There were 37 passengers on board.

Duck Boats are known for their use on land and on water and are used to provide scenic tours of the city. Duck boats, unfortunately, aren’t as safe as they are portrayed to be by the companies who operate them. These amphibious crafts are proving to be a dangerous form of entertainment.

If you or a family member has been a victim of a duck boat accident, call the experienced boating accident lawyer Paul Pfeifer at the Pfeifer Law Firm for a free consultation.   You have rights and legal recourse for negligent actions.