April 29, 2020

Chairs DeFazio, Maloney Respond to NTSB Investigation into the Table Rock Lake Duck Boat Accident

Washington, D.C. – Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) responded to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) findings into the deadly 2018 Table Rock Lake duck boat accident near Branson, Missouri. Among other factors, the NTSB faulted the U.S. Coast Guard for failing to implement safety recommendations made in 2000.

“The NTSB’s investigation into the Table Rock Lake duck boat accident confirms the worst. Human error, negligence, and hazardous conditions made for a fatal combination that took the lives of 17 innocent people that day,” said Chair DeFazio. “It is imperative that any vessel is reliable and adheres to the highest level of safety standards. We can’t rewrite history and bring back those whose lives were lost, but this industry must take a long look at its practices and do everything necessary to ensure the safety of their passengers and crew. I am also urging the Coast Guard to waste no time implementing the two most pertinent recommendations issued 20 years ago, for had they been in place, more people likely would have survived.”

“Outdoor and water tourism is a vital industry, but safety on the water must come first – always. The NTSB’s report is troubling, and shows the urgent need for reform within this industry. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, I am calling on the Coast Guard to immediately adhere to any and all safety recommendations for these vessels, so we can avoid tragedies like this in the future,” said Chair Maloney.

On Thursday, July 19, 2018, a duck boat operated by Ride the Ducks sank in Table Rock Lake, near Branson, Missouri. The accident, which took place during a severe thunderstorm, or derecho, killed 17 of the 31 passengers aboard the vessel, including 16 passengers and one crew member.

The NTSB faults Ripley Entertainment and Ride the Ducks Branson for the accident. The NTSB also cites the U.S. Coast Guard’s failure to require sufficient reserve buoyancy in amphibious vessels and the removal of overhead canopies and sidewall panels as key contributors to the accident. Both improvements were first recommended by the NTSB in 2000 after the 1999 sinking of the Miss Majestic, another duck boat.