Ride the Ducks Boat Recovered from Lake as Investigation Continues
The U. S. Coast Guard raised the amphibious vehicle involved in Thursday night's fatal accident to the surface of Table Rock Lake from about 40 feet of water Monday morning. Eight divers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol helped recover the boat. Sergeant Jason Pace with the Missouri State Highway Patrol said the Ride the Ducks vehicle has been taken to a secure location where it will be part of an investigation into the accident by the National Safety and Transportation Board and the U.S. Coast Guard. A black box was recovered earlier.
The vehicle was hauled away from the Showboat Branson Belle parking area around 1:40 p.m. Monday on a flatbed semi truck. Several orange life jackets could be seen hanging from the ceiling. Tia Coleman of Indiana, one of only two survivors of an 11 member family onboard, told reporters Saturday from Cox Branson where she was hospitalized, that the vehicle's captain had told the passengers (about the life jackets), "'you don't need them, so no need to worry.'"
Seventeen people were killed and seven injured when near hurricane force winds caused the boat to sink as it was returning to shore during a thunderstorm. There were 31 people onboard. Cox Branson said all those who were hospitalized following the accident have been released.
Meanwhile, Ride the Ducks has offered to pay the medical and funeral expenses of those who died. On its website, the company said, "We are offering to pay for all related medical bills and funeral expenses, return all personal items from the rescue scene, and assist with any related travel or accommodations that will help the families in their time of need." It's offering grief counseling to employees. The company also said it's "fully cooperating" with the investigation. Ride the Ducks in Branson is closed until further notice and is offering refunds to those who had already purchased tickets.