A duck boat in Branson, Missouri capsized during a severe thunderstorm on a Missouri lake. According to officials, 17 people have been recovered dead, including children. The police do not yet have the identities of the people who have been recovered or those still missing. Several other people have been recovering at the hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

The Ride the Ducks boat encountered bad weather with winds of up to 60 mph at around 7 pm, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said. He said that while it was still early in the investigation to pinpoint the cause of the boat capsizing but he believed bad weather caused the boat to sink.

On Friday, Sheriff Rader held a news conference saying he believed the passengers were wearing life jackets but he was not sure. He also said there had been a captain and a driver, the captain survived but the driver did not.

Witnesses watched in horror as six-foot waves pounded the duck boat. Jennie Carr said that she saw the duck boat struggling in the surge and then saw the vessel sinking into the waves, unable to move. Jennie was on a larger showboat when the captain told the crew to prepare life vests for the people on the duck boat that were sinking.

“I went to the window, and I prayed and I cried. There was nothing you could do.  It was sad to know that some of those people weren’t going to get to go home,” she said.

The president of the company, Ripley Entertainment who owns the duck boat tours said they were in the process of gathering more information to see what lead to the boat capsizing. Suzanne Smagala-Potts of Ride the Ducks said the company was deeply saddened by the tragedy. “This incident has deeply affected all of us. We will continue to do all we can to assist the families who were involved and the authorities as they continue with the search and rescue. The safety of our guests and employees in our No. 1 priority.”

 

[cbs news]