Investigators look at when duck boat crew decided to enter water

Investigators look at when duck boat crew decided to enter water

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are focused on when operators of a duck boat in Missouri decided to take the vessel into the water and when they became aware of the severe thunderstorm warning, a source with knowledge of the investigation said Thursday.

The Ride the Ducks Branson boat, with 29 passengers and two crew members aboard, sank in Table Rock Lake a week ago. Seventeen people died.

The federal investigators are also looking at the worthiness of the boat to determine if there were any previous leaks, the source said.

It appears the boat sank because it got caught in conditions in the water it was not designed to handle. Duck boats have a bottom-heavy design, making them particularly susceptible to added water weight, according to the source.

Many key players involved in the incident have been interviewed, the source said. The captain survived the sinking, but the driver died.

According to weather data, a thunderstorm traveled hundreds of miles, prompting severe-weather alerts as it moved along, before it hit the lake.

Counties to the northwest of the Branson area were issued thunderstorm warnings at 5:45 p.m. — more than an hour before the boat sank. The Branson area was placed under a severe thunderstorm warning shortly after 6:30 p.m. The boat sank about 7:10 p.m., authorities have said