Ride the Ducks Seattle releases statement after deadly incident in Missouri

SEATTLE — A duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, on Thursday night killed 17 people, including the boat’s driver, and injured 14, according to authorities.

KIRO-7 wanted to know about the safety protocols Ride the Ducks Seattle implements to keep passengers safe on the water.

The company did not want to do an interview on Friday, but did release a statement.

Ride the Ducks of Seattle issued this statement after the deadly incident in Missouri:

“Ride the Ducks Branson is not affiliated with Ride the Ducks Seattle. They are independently owned and operated companies. Our condolences go out to those affected by what appears to be a weather-related accident in Branson Missouri. At Ride the Ducks Seattle, we follow a strict protocol that determines whether our Coast Guard-inspected Ducks can go on the water.  This protocol factors in wind speed, wave height, and the potential for inclement weather. Our internal protocols are more stringent than those prescribed by the United States Coast Guard. In instances in which we determine that the weather could be an issue for the comfort or safety of our guests, we either eliminate the water portion of our tour, or change the route to the less wind-exposed Salmon Bay. If weather changes suddenly, our Coast Guard-licensed captains have the full authority to modify or cancel trips at any point during the tour. “

KIRO-7 talked to tourists who were taking the Ride the Ducks Seattle amphibious vehicles today. Passengers had heard about the Missouri accident but weren't worried because of the sunny skies and calm water in Seattle Friday.

Pete Smith and his wife, Lori, were visiting from Arizona with their twin two-year-old grandchildren. "I'm assuming probably tens of thousands of people have done this, we're hoping for the best," said Smith.

Today there weren't any coverings on the windows of the duck boats in Seattle, plastic can be unrolled to cover the windows in inclement weather. 

Seattle resident Evan Fitzpatrick said he'd go out a window if he had to. He also reflected on the accident in Missouri and whether or not he would have spoken up as the storm moved in. "I would of hoped I would have said,'hey maybe it's not safe'. But I guess you might not fee it's your place to say that, so maybe I wouldn't have," said Fitzpatrick.

Passengers are given a safety briefing before the ride begins, the tour guide says the windows  are emergency exits,  so are the windshied and rear of the vehicle.. Lifejackets are stowed overhead.

It's unclear if the windows were closed or covered last night in Missouri -- but KIRO 7 found the NTSB report after a duck sank in Arkansas in May 1999 killing13 people. 
Investigators say the canvas top trapped people inside.

In Seattle September 2015 A Ride the Ducks amphibious vehicle suffered a mechanical malfucntion, lost control and careened into a charter bus on the Aurora bridge, kliling 5 North Seattle College students.

On Friday Gwen Miles was visiting Seattle from Virginia. She was convinced weather caused the Missouri accident and was comforted by today's sunny skies.

"If it was a stormy type day I would re-think it. But since it's beautiful weather I'm going to go and enjoy," said Miles before she left on the ride.

Coverage from Ride the Ducks accident in Missouri, by Cox Media Group National Content Desk, is below or at this link:

Update 5:15 p.m. EDT July 20: Stone County authorities now say all 17 of the victims in the duck boat accident have been accounted for and that nine of the victims were from the same family, according to Gov. Mike Parson's office. Two members of the family, identified by local news outlets as the Coleman family, survived. Officials said the victims range in age from 1 to 70 years old.

Meantime, mourners are putting flowers on the victims’ cars in the Ride the Ducks parking lot, and the community of Branson, Missouri, is holding several candlelight vigils Friday night in memory of those killed.

One of the vigils is scheduled at Table Rock Lake where the accident happened, according to KY3-TV.

Update 4:30 p.m. EDT July 20: As the search for the bodies of the final four victims in the tragic duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri, continues, family and friends are mourning the staggering loss of life on Table Rock Lake Thursday evening.

One woman lost nine members of her family, USA Today reported, citing Gov. Mike Parson's office.

Update 2:20 p.m. EDT July 20: Branson Mayor Karen Best told The Associated Press that Bob Williams, the man who was driving the Ride the Ducks boat that sunk Thursday in a southwest Missouri lake, was a "great ambassador for Branson" who "was at every event."

Seventeen people died, including Williams, and 14 others were injured Thursday when the duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake, according to authorities.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said earlier Friday that the boat's captain survived.

In a statement posted on Facebook, employees of Ride the Ducks Branson said the business would be closed "while we support the investigation, and to allow time to grieve for the families and the community."

"This incident has deeply affected all of us. Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking," the statement said. "Thank you for your support, and we ask that your thoughts and prayers be with the families during this time."

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