Coast Guard raises duck boat that sank in storm killing 17

BRANSON, Mo. — The U.S. Coast Guard retrieved a duck boat that sank while carrying tourists on a southern Missouri lake during powerful winds, killing 17 people.

Divers swam down to the Ride the Ducks boat and connected it to a crane, which lifted it to the surface.

The boat went down Thursday evening in Table Rock Lake on the edge of the tourist town of Branson after a thunderstorm generated near-hurricane strength winds. The boat was submerged in 80 feet of water.

Nine of the people who died belonged to one Indiana family . Others killed came from Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois.

Divers already recovered a video-recording device that was aboard the boat, although it’s unclear whether it was working when the boat capsized or whether any data can be retrieved.

The recorder is headed to the National Transportation Safety Board lab in Washington.

Keith Holloway, an NTSB spokesman, said it was unclear what the recorder captured, including whether it recorded audio.

Steve Paul, owner of the Test Drive Technologies inspection service in the St. Louis area, has said he issued a written report in August for Ripley Entertainment, which owns Ride the Ducks in Branson, after inspecting two dozen boats.

In the report, he explained why the vessels’ engines — and pumps that remove water from their hulls — might fail in inclement weather.

Paul said he won’t know if the boat that sank is one that he inspected until it has been recovered from the lake.

Ripley Entertainment, which owns Ride the Ducks in Branson, hasn’t responded to questions about Paul’s concerns.

Suzanne Smagala with Ripley Entertainment, said the company is assisting authorities with the rescue effort and that the accident last week was the company’s first in more than 40 years of operation in Branson.

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