Lives could have been saved in Mo. tour boat sinking if Coast Guard had followed advice

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Published: 04/28/2020 17:12:30

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – National Transportation Safety Board investigators said Tuesday that lives could have been saved when a duck capsized in a thunderstorm on Table Rock Lake if the U.S. Coast Guard had followed safety recommendations from it. 18 years ago.

NTSB investigators spoke with board members about their nearly two-year investigation into a 2018 disaster near Branson when a Ride the Ducks tour ship sank, killing 17 of 31 people on board. edge.

The sightseeing tour began on Table Rock Lake just before a severe thunderstorm landed on July 19, 2018. The thunderstorm rolled into the lake with winds exceeding 70 miles per hour, more than double what the duck was supposed to be able to. to manage.

In 2002, the NTSB issued safety recommendations to the US Coast Guard for Ducks – World War II vehicles that can travel on land and water – which included the removal of overhead canopies and the increased reserve buoyancy on boats. These recommendations came after a duck called Miss Majestic sank on an Arkansas lake in 1999, killing 13 people.

The Coast Guard has not adopted those recommendations, the NTSB said.

“Staff believe (Coast Guard regulations) that NVIC 101 did not effectively respond to the 2002 NTSB recommendation to remove … fixed canopies and likely increased fatalities,” said Michael Karr, who investigation of survival factors for the NTSB, during a videoconference with the NTSB. board members on Tuesday morning.

“There were many similarities between this sinking and the one we are considering today,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said. “The NTSB issued several recommendations regarding the sinking of the Miss Majestic which were never followed up in an acceptable manner.”

Last week, the US Coast Guard recommended that duck owners remove canopies and side curtains to help passengers escape in an emergency. The recommendation is voluntary on the part of duck owners.

The NTSB investigation also found that the Stretch Duck 7, the name of the boat that sank in 2018, had a spring-loaded forward hatch, which allowed water to quickly enter the boat’s engine compartment while its captain tried to steer the boat towards the access ramp to the lake.

NTSB investigators said Stretch Duck 7 lacked proper compartmentalization that would have prevented flooding from moving to the rest of the boat. This caused the rest of the boat to flood faster than a bilge pump could push the water out of the vessel, resulting in a rapid sinking of the Stretch Duck 7.

In comparison, Stretch Duck 54, another Ride the Ducks boat that was on the water when the storm hit Table Rock Lake but made it safely to the existing ramp, was newer, had a Stronger front hatch that kept water out of the engine compartment and had better reserve buoyancy.

The Stretch Duck 7 also had her side curtains down when the storm arrived, which together with the overhead canopy prevented passengers from escaping the Stretch Duck 7 as it sank.

Stretch Duck 7 captain Kenneth Scott McKee was able to open the side curtain on the left side of the boat, but it sank so quickly that he was unable to open the right side curtain to allow passengers on that side a quick exit. .

A federal grand jury has indicted McKee, 51, for misconduct and negligence for his handling of Stretch Duck 7.

Ride the Ducks in Branson was operated by Ripley Entertainment. Several lawsuits were filed against Ripley Entertainment; most opted for confidential terms.

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