A day after a duck boat capsized and sank during a severe storm at a southern Missouri lake, killing at least 17 people, divers are resuming a search for more people who remain missing.
The duck boat had 31 people aboard when the storm swept in Thursday evening at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said. At least 14 survived, he said.
Video posted by Jennie Phillips-Hudson Carr, which she recorded from a larger vessel nearby, showed two duck boats rocking and tilting to the side as the lake’s ripples turned into massive waves. One of those boats eventually sank.
“Oh my God, those poor people, oh no!” someone says in the background as the water crashes into the smaller boats.
“If there’s kids on there, those poor babies,” a female voice says.
Diving teams from various agencies scoured the waters for potential victims, and will resume the search Friday.
The duck boat had life jackets
An off-duty deputy working security helped rescue people, Rader said, without providing details. He said there were life jackets aboard the boat, but he doesn’t know whether people were wearing them.
Ripley Entertainment, the parent company of Ride the Ducks Branson, said it recently acquired the vessel involved in the incident. It said there were other boats on the lake that returned to dock safely.
Rader confirmed that there were two duck boats headed toward land when the winds picked up, and one made it back safely.
The amphibious boat travels on both land and water, and is popular among tourists in major cities. The boats’ history dates back to World War II, when such vessels were a common sight due to their versatility.
Severe thunderstorms hit Branson
Branson was under a severe thunderstorm warning issued shortly before 6:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. ET), about half an hour before the boat capsized.
There were numerous reports of damage throughout the county, including trees down and structural damage, said CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward. The highest wind gust reported in the area was 63 mph.
“I believe it was caused by weather, yes,” said Rader, referring to the capsizing.
Gov. Mike Parson asked for prayers for first responders and for those involved in the incident.
The Coast Guard will conduct an investigation, said Sgt. Jason Pace of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which is assisting. A team from the National Transportation Safety Board will travel to the scene Friday morning.
Branson is about 200 miles southeast of Kansas City, and is considered a major family vacation destination.