The Latest: Ex-NTSB chairman: Duck boats prone to accidents

Duck boat accident survivor Tia Coleman is comforted by her sister Leeta Bigbee after speaking to the media at Cox Medical Center Branson Saturday, July 21, 2018, in Branson, Mo. Coleman lost nine family members in the accident Thursday on Table Rock Lake which left over a dozen people dead. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Ex-NTSB chairman says duck boats should be banned from commercial recreational use

BRANSON, Mo. — The Latest on a deadly tourist boat accident in Missouri (all times local):

7:40 p.m.

A former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board says duck boats aren't designed for commercial recreational use.

James Hall said Saturday that the boat's design makes the World War II-era vessels prone to the kind of accidents that led to the sinking of a duck boat Thursday on a Missouri lake. The sinking killed 17 people .

Hall says the amphibious vessel should be banned from such use. He says he doesn't believe there's a way to make the vehicles safe, particularly in bad weather conditions.

He says ducks boats are an amphibious vehicle designed for an assault on beaches.

Most oversight for the vessels is provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, but Hall says the Coast Guard isn't staffed properly to provide the type of strict oversight necessary to ensure such operations are safe.

Hall was appointed chairman of the NTSB in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. He served as its chairman from 1994 to 2001

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7:15 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board says inspectors will try to learn how information about a severe thunderstorm was conveyed to the crew of a tourist boat that capsized and killed 17 people on a Missouri lake.

NTSB member Earl Weener and a representative of the U.S. Coast Guard spoke with reporters in Branson on Saturday. The agencies are piecing together how the duck boat sank Thursday during a storm on a local lake.

Weener said weather information provided to investigators showed winds were 2 mph short of hurricane force at the time. He says investigators hope a video recorder recovered from the boat will show what happened.

Coast Guard Capt. Scott Stoemer says the investigation will include determining if operators followed all safety regulations. An incident report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol says none of the 31 people on board was wearing a life jacket.

Stoemer says investigators hope to raise the sunken boat early next week.

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6:30 p.m.

An Indiana woman who survived a Missouri boating accident that killed nine of her family members says she remembers being in icy cold water, thinking about her children and saying: "If they don't make it Lord, take me, too. I don't need to be here.'"

Tia Coleman spoke through tears Saturday at a hospital where she's recovering in Branson. Three of her children were among the 17 people killed when a duck boat capsized during a storm Thursday in a local lake.

Coleman says didn't become nervous until a large swell came over the side of the boat. She says she doesn't know how she ended up in the water and may have hit her head.

She says the cold water led her to believe she was deep in the lake. She says she "just let go" and somehow floated to the top of the water, where she saw life rafts that had been thrown into the lake by people nearby.

She says not knowing where her children were was "the worst feeling you could ever feel."

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5:40 p.m.

An Indianapolis woman recuperating in a Missouri hospital after losing nine family members in a boating accident says part of the reason the family went on the excursion was for her 9-year-old son with autism.

Tia Coleman says her son Reece was "the happiest, sweetest boy" and made every day worth living. She says he loved the water and her family took the Ride the Ducks tour because it was something he'd enjoy doing.

Coleman's three children and six other relatives died Thursday when the amphibious duck boat they were riding in capsized in a severe thunderstorm on a southwest Missouri lake.

Investigators say 17 people died. That's more than the total number of deaths on Table Rock Lake over the past decade.

The National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies are investigating.

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5:20 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says a duck boat that sank on a Missouri lake in an accident that killed 17 people was built during World War II and had passed an inspection in February.

The Kansas City Star reports that the Coast Guard said the craft was the 33-foot-long Stretch Duck 07 built in 1944.

Lt. Tasha Sadowicz is with the Coast Guard's regional office in St. Louis. She says a majority of the 22 Stetch Ducks operating in Missouri were built in 1944 or 1945.

She said the duck boat that sank during a thunderstorm Thursday was inspected annually. Investigators say none of the 31 people on board was wearing a life jacket.

In 2016, an inspection revealed that the boat's fire detectors were inoperable, but they were later repaired. And between January and April 2015, the Coast Guard kept the boat from sailing.

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5 p.m.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the 31 people aboard a Missouri tourist boat that sank weren't wearing life jackets.

The patrol released an incident report Saturday with details about the Thursday accident that killed 17 people. They were aboard a vessel known as a duck boat that capsized in Table Rock Lake near Branson after storms quickly moved into the area.

The incident report notes that the amphibious vehicle was overcome by strong winds in a thunderstorm, which caused the vessel to swamp and then sink.

Among the dead are nine members of a single family.

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4:20 p.m.

A longtime friend says the Indianapolis couple who died along with seven family members on a Missouri tourist boat enjoyed traveling together after they retired. They especially liked big family trips.

Seventy-year-old Horace "Butch" Coleman and 69-year-old Belinda Coleman, who went by "Toni," were killed Thursday when the boat capsized in a storm near Branson. A brother, two of their adult children and four grandchildren also died.

Maxine Gilliam has lived in the same neighborhood as the Colemans for more than 40 years. She says, "We were like family" and her family is "devastated."

Gilliam says Butch Coleman worked for UPS before retiring and coached youth football for more than 40 years, a position son Glenn Coleman, a 40-year-old also killed Thursday, took on when he got older as well.

Toni Coleman was a talented seamstress who was like a sister. She says "If either of us needed to talk, we'd go to Dairy Queen and unload while we ate ice cream."

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3:45 p.m.

A Branson resident who says she's ridden duck boats on Table Rock Lake about 10 times says she's never seen anyone wearing a life vest during the ride.

Kathy Ford said Saturday she's lived in Branson for 19 years and has taken her 4-year-old great-granddaughter on a duck boat ride. She said the operators of the boats will show passengers where life vests are, but she has never seen any rider put one on.

Seventeen people were killed when a duck boat capsized Thursday on choppy waters. The accident happened as winds approached hurricane strength.

Ford said the Thursday's storm was one of the worst she's seen in Branson.

Ford said she works at nearby theme park Silver Dollar City and was leaving work as the storm began. She said the park usually alerts staff when a storm is approaching. When she left, she had been given no notification about bad weather and the park had closed no rides.

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3:15 p.m.

Meteorologists say they had been tracking the storm that hit a southwest Missouri lake before an amphibious duck boat capsized, killing 17.

Nearly eight hours before the boat carrying 31 people sank Thursday, the National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the area including the lake.

National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Wise said Saturday that the most intense part of the line of storms started forming at 5:45 p.m. Thursday south of Kansas City and extending south into Arkansas. It hit the Springfield area at 6:23 p.m., uprooting trees and downing power lines. The boat went down shortly after 7 p.m.

Meteorologist Elisa Raffa of KOLR-TV in Springfield said in a phone interview that her station was forecasting all morning the threat of severe weather, including a Facebook live event after the watch was issued.

Raffa said, "My hurt with this as a human and as a person and as a meteorologist is this storm was expected."

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2:55 p.m.

A birthday party held last week in Indianapolis will serve for some relatives as a final living memory of Tia Coleman's family.

Coleman was the only one in her immediate family who survived after a duck boat capsized Thursday on the choppy waters of Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri. Her husband and three children were among 17 killed.

Cousin Serica Franklin says she held Arya Coleman at the party, describing the 1-year-old as "all smiles" and a happy child. Her own son ran around with 7-year-old Evan Coleman, who was excited to start second grade in a program for gifted children. Nine-year-old Reece Coleman also drowned.

She described Glenn Coleman as down-to-earth, laid-back and a good father. She said her cousin was "always bragging about just how good of a husband she had."

Franklin said: "It's heartbreaking that that's how I'm going to remember them for the rest of my life."

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2:20 p.m.

An Indianapolis woman whose nine family members died when a tourist boat sank says crew members told passengers the tour would start on the water because of an incoming storm.

Tia Coleman's relatives were among 17 people killed when a duck boat capsized Thursday on the choppy waters of Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri. The accident happened as winds approached hurricane strength.

The amphibious boat tours usually travel on both land and water. Coleman told television station KOLR that before the tour started passengers were told they were going out on the water first. She says when they went onto the lake there were "big, huge waves."

The president of the company that owns the duck boat business said Friday the business monitors weather.

A severe thunderstorm warning had been issued for the area more than 30 minutes before the boat sank.

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1:15 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it might take as long as a year to finish a report on what caused an amphibious duck boat to capsize and sink on a lake in southwest Missouri Thursday.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that in a late Friday press conference near the site of the accident, NTSB officials said they expect to be on the scene for the next week to 10 days.

Seventeen people, including five children, died when the boat capsized on choppy waters during a storm.

The area had been under a severe thunderstorm watch for hours and a severe thunderstorm warning for more than 30 minutes before the boat sank.

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1 p.m.

A man who owns a private inspection service says he told a company operating duck boats on a Missouri lake that two dozen of them had significant design flaws.

Steve Paul said Saturday that he inspected two dozen duck boats for Ripley Entertainment in August 2017. He said he doesn't know whether the boats remained in Branson.

A duck boat operated by Ripley Entertainment capsized Thursday evening, killing 17 people.

Paul said the boats had systems venting motor exhaust at the front below the water line. He said in rough conditions, water could get into the motor and shut it off.

Paul said pumps used to take water out of the hull would then shut off.

A Ripley spokeswoman did not immediately return telephone and email messages seeking comment.

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12:45 p.m.

The website for a tour company whose boat capsized in southwest Missouri says the business will remain closed during the investigation.

Seventeen people, including five children, died Thursday when an amphibious duck boat capsized on choppy waters during a storm. The National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies are investigating.

The website for Ride the Ducks Branson has been taken down, except for a page saying the business will remain closed to support the investigation and allow time for families and the Branson community to grieve. The page says the company's leaders are heartbroken.

Jim Pattison Jr., president of Ripley Entertainment, which owns the business, said Friday that the captain operating the boat had 16 years of experience, and the business monitors weather. The area had been under a severe thunderstorm watch for hours and a severe thunderstorm warning for more than 30 minutes before the boat sank.

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12:30 p.m.

An Illinois man says his 12-year-old daughter told him that her grandmother saved her after the Missouri tourist boat they were on sank in a storm.

Todd Dennison tells the Kansas City Star that his mother, 64-year-old Leslie Dennison, had taken his daughter on a special trip to Branson, Missouri. They had just arrived in town Thursday night when they went out on the duck boat tour.

Authorities say Leslie Dennison, of the western Illinois town of Sherrard, was among the 17 people who died on Table Rock Lake.

Todd Dennison says his daughter told him that after the boat was submerged, she felt her grandmother below her, pushing her upward. He says "She said her grandmother saved her."

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12:20 p.m.

A Missouri couple who recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary were among the 17 victims of a tourist boat accident near Branson.

The accident on Thursday claimed victims ranging in age from 1 to 76. Among them were 65-year-old William Bright of Higginsville and his 63-year-old wife, Janice.

Neighbor Barbara Beck says the couple moved to Higginsville from Kansas City, Missouri, three years ago to be closer to a daughter and their grandchildren. They quickly grew to relish small-town life and were active in church and the community.

Beck says the Brights had decided to stop taking extended vacations. Branson was to be their last.

William Bright's final public Facebook post noted the wedding anniversary and how happy he was with his wife, his three kids and 16 grandchildren. Life, he wrote, had "been a lot of fun."

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11:30 a.m.

An Indiana woman whose nine family members were killed when a Missouri duck boat sank says the last thing she heard before a huge wave swept over them was her sister-in-law yelling, "Grab the baby!"

Tia Coleman and her 13-year-old nephew were the only survivors out of the 11 family members who set off on the tourist boat Thursday night. Those who died were Coleman's husband and three children, ages 9, 7 and 1; her sister-in-law and 2-year-old nephew; her mother-in-law and father-in-law and her husband's uncle.

Tia Coleman tells television station KOLR that the family first went to the wrong duck boat business but switched out their tickets for the 6:30 p.m. ride. She says as the boat reached the water there were "big, huge waves." She says passengers told crew members, "This is a little bit too much."

Then a huge wave hit and the boat began sinking. Coleman says she was in the water alone, praying to Jesus, "Please keep me .... so I can get to my children." She says she spotted a rescue boat and swam as fast as she could to it.

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11 a.m.

A relative of an Indiana family who lost nine members when a duck boat sank in Missouri says the family is taking it hard.

The Stone County Sheriff's Office identified the Indiana family members as 45-year-old Angela Coleman, 1-year-old Arya Coleman, 69-year-old Belinda Coleman, 76-year-old Ervin Coleman, 7-year-old Evan Coleman, 40-year-old Glenn Coleman, 70-year-old Horace Coleman, 2-year-old Maxwell Coleman, and 9-year-old Reece Coleman.

Kim Thomas Sr. says "the kids are doing better than we are. We have to live in this world; they have gone to the other side."

Thomas' children grew up with Coleman's children. He says the family has a strong faith in God.

He said family members were upset to hear the boat captain told passengers they didn't need to use life preservers.

Thomas says "you should always err on the side of safety."

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10:35 a.m.

A St. Louis-area couple who died in the tourist boat accident near Branson apparently opted for the duck boat ride at the last minute.

Among the 17 people who died Thursday on Table Rock Lake were 68-year-old Rosemarie Hamann and 69-year-old William Asher. Hamann celebrated her birthday earlier in the week. Her final Facebook photo was a selfie with Asher. He's sticking his tongue out, and she' smiling at his silliness.

Russ McKay of St. Louis met the couple four years ago when they offered to help with a charity event McKay was organizing. Since then, they worked on annual charities for veterans.

McKay said he talked to Hamann nearly every day, including during her trip to Branson. On Wednesday, she told McKay that she and Asher had just gone on the Branson Belle paddle boat and were planning to go again. But for some reason they opted instead for the duck boat. McKay didn't know why.

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10:15 a.m.

The driver of a Missouri duck boat that sank and killed 17 people is being remembered as a longtime pastor at a Rhode Island church.

WPRI-TV reports Robert Williams was a pastor and founder of Cathedral of Life in Providence, now called King's Cathedral.

His son-in-law, Bishop Jeffery Williams, described the 73-year-old as a "prince of a man, loving, kind and generous." He said the loss to the family is "incalculable."

A statement from the church says Williams and his wife, Judith, helped found the church in 1999.

The station also reported Williams worked for the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority as a building foreman. Spokespeople for the agency didn't immediately comment Saturday.

Williams helmed the boat when it capsized in Table Rock Lake after a strong storm on Thursday.

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10 a.m.

The deaths from the tourist boat accident at Table Rock Lake in Missouri exceeded the number of deaths on the lake over the past decade combined.

Seventeen people, including five children, died Thursday when an amphibious duck boat capsized on choppy waters during a storm. The National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies are investigating.

Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman Laurie Driver says 16 drownings occurred on the lake from 2008 up until Thursday.

The lake is near the country music tourist town of Branson.

More than half of those killed in Thursdays' accident were members of the same Indiana family. According to the Stone County Sheriff's Office, five of the dead were from Missouri, two were from Arkansas and one was from Illinois.

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8:45 a.m.

Authorities have released the names of the 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank on a Branson, Missouri, lake.

More than half of those killed were members of the same Indiana family. According to the Stone County Sheriff's Office, five of the dead were from Missouri, two were from Arkansas and one was from Illinois.

The Ride the Ducks boat sank Thursday in Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri after a strong storm.

The sheriff's department identified the Indiana family members as 45-year-old Angela Coleman, 1-year-old Arya Coleman, 69-year-old Belinda Coleman, 76-year-old Ervin Coleman, 7-year-old Evan Coleman, 40-year-old Glenn Coleman, 70-year-old Horace Coleman, 2-year-old Maxwell Coleman, and 9-year-old Reece Coleman.

The people from Missouri were identified as 69-year-old William Asher, 68-year-old Rosemarie Hamann, 63-year-old Janice Bright, 65-year-old William Bright, and 73-year-old Bob Williams.

Also killed were 64-year-old Leslie Dennison of Illinois and 15-year-old Lance Smith and 53-year-old Steve Smith from Arkansas.

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For the AP's full story: https://bit.ly/2NyEEa3

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