NTSB: Coast Guard ignored duck boat safety proposals

A duck boat that sank in Branson, Missouri, is raised out of the water in July 2018.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The National Transportation Safety Board says the Coast Guard has repeatedly ignored safety recommendations that could have made tourist duck boats safer and potentially prevented a Missouri accident that killed 17 people, including nine members of an Indianapolis family.

The NTSB on Wednesday released a “Safety Recommendation Report” on the July 2018 accident, when a Ride the Ducks of Branson boat sank during a sudden and severe storm.

Former World War II amphibious vehicles known as duck boats operate around the country. The NTSB says that since an Arkansas duck boat accident killed 13 people in 1999, it has repeatedly urged the Coast Guard to require them to be better able to remain afloat when flooded, and to remove impediments to escape.

Coast Guard Lt. Amy Midgett says the Coast Guard has previously issued guidance to duck boat operators aimed at ensuring safety and is launching a new review based on the NTSB recommendations.

The attorneys for the Branson duck boat victims, including Tia Coleman, released a statement Thursday morning.

They are urging the Coast Guard to “immediately adopt and enforce the NTSB safety recommendations.”

This is the full statement:

“While we commend the NTSB for its comprehensive post-accident investigation and life-saving recommendations, we demand that the Coast Guard finally makes passenger safety its highest priority and immediately do what it should have done 17 years ago, in 2002, when the NTSB made the same duck-boat safety recommendations following the May 1,1999 Miss Majestic  duck boat sinking near Hot Springs, Arkansas in which 13 passengers, including five children drowned. 17 years ago the NTSB recommended that duck boats be modified so they remain afloat while flooded or that they remove their death trap canopies. The Coast Guard and the duck boat industry ignored these vital safety recommendations and another 19 innocent victims died because of their failure to act. How many more must die before they will?”

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