In an accident involving Ride the Ducks, 17 were killed last night on Table Rock Lake when one of the company’s amphibious vehicles capsized during severe weather.
All 31 passengers have now been accounted for, according to Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader. A separate Ride the Ducks boat made it back to shore safely, according to media reports.
Rader this morning hosted a 9 a.m. news conference to update reporters on the incident. A video of the media briefing was posted online by Amanda Sullivan, a reporter at The Standard at Missouri State University.
“This is an ongoing investigation,” Rader said, noting many details about the accident are still unknown.
Gov. Mike Parson, who attended the news conference, thanked the Stone County Sheriff's Office, city of Branson, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard for their overnight work responding to the accident.
“There’s multiple agencies that have come together to try to help with this tragic event,” he said. “We, as a state, will do everything within my powers to make sure that they have all the resources here they need to come to a conclusion on this incident.”
In a Facebook post, the operators of Ride the Ducks said the company is working with authorities and affected families in the continued investigation.
“Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking,” the post reads. “The safety of our guests and employees is our No. 1 priority. Ride the Ducks will be closed for business while we support the investigation, and to allow time to grieve for the families and the community.”
President Donald Trump also tweeted his condolences.
“My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those involved in the terrible boat accident which just took place in Missouri. Such a tragedy, such a great loss,” he said.
Ride the Ducks Branson is owned by Ripley Entertainment Inc., the operator of the company’s Facebook page confirmed via Facebook Messenger. Ride the Ducks International LLC last year sold the Branson assets to Ripley, which also owns 30 Believe it or Not Odditoriums, according to a news release posted by Genesis Capital, which advised on the deal.
Ride the Ducks had been owned by Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. until 2012, when HFE sold the company to an independent investor, according to a separate release from Genesis.
The accident on Table Rock Lake last night was not the first time the amphibious vehicles have been at the center of incidents causing casualties. Other incidents include a fatal crash in Seattle in 2016 and a fatal crash in Philadelphia in 2010.
Following the incident last night, the city of Branson opened up its City Hall for victims of the boat accident, according to a news release.
Burrell Behavioral Health Inc. separately issued a release announcing it deployed a crisis support team to Cox Medical Center Branson to help those affected by the incident.
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