BRANSON, Mo. – Eleven people, including at least one child, are dead and several others hospitalized after an amphibious duck boat capsized Thursday on Table Rock Lake in Missouri.
According to Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader, a Ride the Ducks tourist boat reportedly sank with 31 people on board.
Rader said an off-duty sheriff's deputy was working security at the scene and helped rescue survivors. Recovery efforts continued after dark, with some passengers still unaccounted for. A dive team from Western Taney County was in the water and a team from the Missouri State Highway Patrol was on the way, as well.
First responders from multiple agencies responded to the incident, initially reported as a “mass casualty incident” involving a "tourist type boat" on Table Rock Lake near Branson.
Divers staged near the Showboat Branson Belle, according to a statement issued by the Southern Stone County Fire Protection District.
The statement, issued at 8:20 p.m., specified that the Branson Belle itself was not involved.
Rader said weather was thought to have caused a Ride the Ducks tourist boat to capsize. Weather reports said high winds hit the area at about 7 p.m.
Jim Pulley, owner of Sea Tow Table Rock Lake, said the storm hit the lake with 80 mph winds that kicked up waves 5 feet high.
He said his Sea Tow boats were helping with crowd control near the site where the Duck boat capsized a short distance behind the Showboat Branson Belle, which was tied to its dock.
“The Ducks have a ramp access where they put in, and when the wind hit it pushed the boat right square behind the Branson Belle,” Pulley said.
Pulley said several docks also broke loose during the wind storm, and the Water Patrol helped rescue people from two personal watercraft boats that capsized in the wind.
A spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment said the company is aware of an incident involving one of its tour boats. The schedule for Thursday showed there were tours every 30 minutes from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Steve Linderberg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said a severe line of storms blew through the Springfield area between 6:15 and 6:30 p.m. "We had a line of very strong thunderstorms that caused 74 mph winds here in Springfield," he said.
Linderberg said a top wind speed of 63 mph was measured at the Branson Airport near 7 p.m. Thursday. He said the winds were likely stronger over the lake.
"There's nothing to slow down winds in an open area," he said.