The duck boat that sank in Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo., is raised Monday, July 23, 2018. The boat went down Thursday evening after a thunderstorm generated near-hurricane strength winds. (Nathan Papes/The Springfield News-Leader via AP)

The Latest: Lawmaker says change needed after boat tragedy

July 23, 2018 - 4:49 pm

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — The Latest on the deadly sinking of a duck boat in a southern Missouri lake (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

A Missouri lawmaker says change is needed to improve the safety of amphibious vehicles like duck boats after 17 people were killed when one sunk last week at Table Rock Lake near Branson.

Cassville Republican Sen. David Sater on Monday said he's waiting on the results of the federal investigation into Thursday's accident, but pledged that "this issue will not get dropped."

Another local lawmaker, Republican Rep. Don Phillips, says he's not sure whether there's a legislative fix. But he questioned why passengers were not wearing life jackets. He said it would be a commonsense policy to wear them while on the lake.

Missouri law requires boat passengers ages 7 and younger to wear life jackets whenever they're on the water, but commercial vessels like the duck boat that sank are exempt. Three of the people who died Thursday were age 7 or younger.

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3:40 p.m.

Several of the 14 survivors of the deadly tourist boat accident in Missouri made it to safety by climbing aboard a nearby excursion boat.

Seventeen people perished Thursday night when a duck boat sank on Table Rock Lake, near the popular tourist town of Branson. The boat was pulled from 80 feet (24 meters) of water on Monday. The National Transportation Safety Board, U.S. Coast Guard and Missouri State Highway Patrol are investigating.

Patrol chaplain Steve Martin met with several survivors since the accident. Many told him they were able to swim to the Branson Belle paddleboat, which was floating nearby when the duck boat sank.

Martin says most or all members of a family of nine, all of whom survived, were able to get to the Branson Belle. He says people on the paddleboat helped pull the swimmers to safety.

It wasn't clear how many of the survivors reached safety on the Branson Belle. Martin didn't know, and a message left with the Branson Belle was not immediately returned.

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12:30 a.m.

An investigation of a tourist boat accident on a Missouri lake that claimed 17 lives will look at whether operators of the boat violated Coast Guard-issued limitations by venturing into the water as thunderstorms threatened and struck the region.

The Ride the Ducks in Branson tour on Thursday occurred as the area was under a severe thunderstorm warning. A storm that moved through the area generated near-hurricane strength winds.

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Tasha Sadowicz says the boat that sank passed an annual inspection in February. But Sadowicz says the "certificate of inspection" places limitations on when boats can enter the water, based on wind speed and the height of waves.

Sadowicz says investigators want to know whether the boat violated the limitations, and whether operators were adequately monitoring the weather.

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12:10 p.m.

A Missouri lawmaker says an investigation needs to play out before decisions are made about how to increase the safety of amphibious vehicles like duck boats after 17 people were killed when one sunk last week at Table Rock Lake near Branson.

State Rep. Jeff Justus said Monday that he'll support any needed improvements. But the Branson Republican says it's not yet clear what happened and what could be corrected.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Former NTSB Chairman James Hall said Saturday that the boat's design makes the World War II-era vessels prone to the kind of accidents that led to the Thursday's sinking. Hall said the amphibious vessel should be banned from such use.

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11:30 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says the National Transportation Safety Board will take custody of the duck boat that capsized in Missouri now that it's been raised from Table Rock Lake.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Scott Stoermer spoke to reporters after the boat was raised Monday morning. Seventeen people were killed Thursday when the boat sank amid a thunderstorm that generated near-hurricane strength winds.

Stoermer says it took until Monday to remove the boat from the lake because that's how much time was needed to amass the necessary equipment.

Stoermer says the boat was photographed underwater before being brought to the surface. He said he could not discuss specifics of the boat's condition.

Nine of the people who died belonged to one Indiana family. Others killed came from Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois.

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11 a.m.

The website for a tour company whose boat capsized in Missouri says the business is offering to pay for medical and funeral expenses for those aboard.

Thirty-one people were on the amphibious duck boat when it capsized Thursday evening on choppy waters during a storm. Seventeen died. The National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies are investigating.

The website for Ride the Ducks Branson says the company is offering to pay for all related medical bills and funeral expenses, to return all personal items from the rescue scene, and to help with any related travel or accommodations that families need. The company also says it's providing grief counseling for its own employees.

The page says the company's leaders remain deeply saddened, but the company cannot comment further on orders from the NTSB.

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10:40 a.m.

A duck boat that sank in southern Missouri, killing 17 people aboard, has been raised.

Live broadcast footage from KYTV showed a crane that is attached to a barge pulling the Ride the Ducks boat from Table Rock Lake on Monday morning. A boat pushed it toward the shore.

The boat sank Thursday night in churning waves near the tourist town of Branson. The victims were from Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. The boat was submerged in 80 feet (24 meters) of water.

The National Transportation Safety Board and U.S. Coast Guard are investigating what caused the boat to sink.

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10:35 p.m.

Funeral services are set for Wednesday for two Arkansas victims of a duck boat accident in a Missouri lake.

Osceola Church of Christ posted on Facebook that funerals for 15-year-old Lance Smith and 53-year-old Steve Smith will be held Wednesday afternoon. Visitation services will also be held Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon at the church in Osceola, which is about 175 miles (280 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock.

The father and son were among 17 people killed when their tour boat capsized on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, on Thursday. Steve Smith's daughter 14-year-old daughter, Loren Smith, was also on the boat, but survived.

Other victims were from Missouri, Indiana and Illinois.

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10:30 a.m.

Funerals are set for Friday for four of nine Indiana family members who died when a tourist boat sank in a Missouri lake.

The Indianapolis church services will honor the husband and three children of Tia Coleman. She and her 13-year-old nephew were the only members of their family who boarded the duck boat to survive Thursday's sinking. The Colemans were among 17 people killed when the duck boat capsized and sank in Table Rock Lake in Branson during a storm.

Church secretary Lynthia Bruce says a visitation will be held Friday morning at Grace Apostolic Church followed by funerals for 40-year-old Glenn Coleman, 9-year-old Reece, 7-year-old Evan and 1-year-old Arya.

A vigil for the Colemans is set for Monday evening at a different Indianapolis church.

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10:10 a.m.

A Missouri law requires boat passengers ages 7 and younger to wear life jackets whenever they're on the water, but commercial vessels like the duck boat that sank in Table Rock Lake are exempt.

Seventeen people, including three ages 7 or younger, died Thursday when one of the amphibious vehicles sank amid churning waves. The victims were from Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.

Lt. Tasha Sadowicz of the U.S. Coast Guard says commercial vehicles like duck boats are required only to have enough flotation devices for all passengers and crew, and life jackets that fit every child on board.

An investigation into the cause of the duck boat accident is underway but could take months or longer to complete.

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9:55 a.m.

At least one member died from every family aboard a tourist duck boat that sank in Missouri last week, except for a family of nine that all survived.

Mandi Keller says her family's survival is a "complete miracle." The Kansas City Star reports that Keller wasn't aboard the Ride the Ducks boat when it was swamped during high winds Thursday evening.

Seventeen of the 31 people aboard the duck boat died, including nine of 11 members of another family.

Missouri State Highway Patrol chaplain Steve Martin calls the survival of Keller's family "remarkable." Martin says there is "no explanation" and that the family is suffering from survivors' guilt.

Martin says the family all ended up in different places and found safety in different ways.

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8:30 a.m.

All the people who were hospitalized after a duck boat ferrying tourists sank in southern Missouri have been released.

Cox Health Center Branson said Sunday night in a tweet that it was "happy to announce" all seven had been discharged. Fourteen survived the accident.

Seventeen people died when the Ride the Ducks boat went down Thursday night in Table Rock Lake on the outskirts of Branson after a thunderstorm generated near-hurricane strength winds.

Among those who were hospitalized was Tia Coleman, whose husband, three children and five other relatives died. The Indianapolis woman told reporters Saturday from the lobby of the hospital that she was alone when she came up for air. She recalled praying "let me get to my babies."

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8 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says it is planning to raise a duck boat that sank in a southern Missouri lake during powerful winds, killing 17 people.

The work to recover the Ride the Ducks boat from Table Rock Lake is scheduled to begin 9 a.m. Monday. The boat went down Thursday night in the Branson area after a thunderstorm generated near-hurricane strength winds. The boat is submerged in 80 feet (24 meters) of water.

Divers are expected to swim down to the vessel and connect it to a crane, which will lift it to the surface.

Divers already have recovered a digital recorder from the boat. The National Transportation Safety Board and U.S. Coast Guard are hoping the recorder will assist in their investigation into why the boat sank.

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For the AP's complete story: https://bit.ly/2Obv0LV

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