(Reuters) – The U.S. Coast Guard was preparing on Monday morning to recover the “duck boat” that sank beneath storm-whipped waves in a Missouri lake last week, drowning 17 people in one of the deadliest tourist accidents in the United States in years.
After raising the World War Two-style amphibious landing craft from Table Rock Lake outside the popular vacation town of Branson, the Coast Guard said, it will hand boat over to federal investigators.
Thirty-one people were aboard the Ride the Ducks boat last Thursday when a sudden, intense storm struck, with winds just shy of hurricane strength churning the lake’s waters. Less than half survived the accident and officials are looking into what the boat’s operators knew about the weather forecast before setting out.
Among the dead were the boat’s driver and nine members of a single family. A memorial service was held in Branson on Sunday for the victims.
More than three dozen people have died in incidents involving duck boat vehicles in the United States over the past two decades, both on water and land.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has said the state is contemplating whether to bring criminal charges.
Ripley Entertainment, which owns the duck boat ride, has said the boats should not have been out in such bad weather and that the intensity of the storm was unexpected.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which will determine the causes of the accident, will look into what the boat operators knew about the weather forecast before taking the boat out.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)