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Quack Quack?
Author: TriSec    Date: 07/21/2018 10:08:17

Good Morning.

I'm going to have a little love today for our compatriots across the block at Boston Duck Tours.

By now you've probably heard about the accident in Table Rock Lake, Missouri.

At least 17 people, nine of which came from the same family, are dead after a duck boat capsized Thursday during severe weather at a lake in southwestern Missouri, authorities said.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said the bodies of the four remaining missing passengers were located as divers resumed the search Friday morning. There were 31 people aboard the Ride the Ducks boat when it sank on Table Rock Lake near Branson. Seven were hospitalized.

According to state officials, the dead range in age from 1 through 70.

Nine people who died in the incident were from the same family. Two other family members aboard the boat survived, including Tia Coleman of Indianapolis. She told Fox59 she and her nephew are the only members of the family to have survived the tragedy.

“My heart is very heavy. Out of 11 of us, only two of us surviving – that’s me and my nephew,” said Tia. “I lost all my children. I lost my husband. I lost my mother-in-law and my father-in-law. I lost my uncles. I lost my sister-in-law, who was really my sister, and I lost my nephew.”

Now purely speculating, there's a number of things that have gone wrong on that lake. I've read another story (that I can't find now) where other boaters noted that they weren't paying attention to the weather - it went from clear skies to hurricane conditions in all of ten minutes.

That doesn't necessarily ring true. I've seen that myself - it can go from clear skies to a deluge in Boston in that same ten minutes. But we can see the radar and hear the warnings. It still takes hours for a squall line to cross the length of this Commonwealth. Somebody wasn't paying attention out there.

But being a former outdoor water instructor, this is what I find the most galling.

Tia Coleman, who lost nine members of her family in the Branson, Mo. duck boat wreck Thursday, said her loved ones would still be alive if the captain hadn’t told them not to bother with their life jackets.

“My husband would want me to say this. He would want the world to know that on this boat we were on, the captain had told us, 'Don’t worry about grabbing the life jackets — you won’t need them.’ So nobody grabbed them as we listened to the captain as he told us to stay seated,” Coleman told local TV news station FOX59.

If the captain, who survived, had been more concerned about using the personal flotation devices, more of the Coleman family would still be alive today, she told the news outlet.

“In doing that, when it was time to grab (the life vests), it was too late and I believe that a lot of people could have been spared,” she said in a phone interview from her hospital bed.

I've ridden duck boats myself. They are a bit cramped, and have a roof overtop with roll-down vinyl sides that zip closed and secure at the bottom. These were all down at the time of the incident.

We have the same setup on our trolleys. But as I noted yesterday morning, just think about it. Put on a blindfold, hold your breath, and now try to find those emergency 'exits' and get out. If you inhale, you're dead. Can you do it, even parked in the garage?

Personal flotation devices might not have saved those 17 people, but it would have given them a better chance. But you have to be wearing it BEFORE disaster strikes. Most tourist boats don't require you to have one on at all times, and even then, they are often not easily accessible in a panic/emergency situation. As soon as it became apparent that the weather was turning, that captain should have had everyone put one on.

Finally, there's the boat. I've spent my life around small watercraft, and they all have the same design flaw. Large ships, and indeed, even something like Titanic, are able to sustain massive amounts of damage and still stay afloat, or take hours to finally sink. That's because of something called "compartmentalization". Large ships have multiple watertight compartments so the entire ship doesn't flood and sink at once. Smaller boats do not. It's really that simple. There is the video, that I won't link, that shows this happening. The duck boat in question is plowing into the waves, but you can watch it taking water over the bow and getting lower and lower in the water until it had no more buoyancy left.

In the end, 17 people are dead, and the touring industry is a little more tarnished, and in my opinion, the captain is probably guilty of at least manslaughter here.


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