Two survivors of the deadly Missouri “duck boat” disaster that left 17 people dead were released from the hospital late Friday.
The adult and child were not identified. Four other survivors, including two adults and two kids, remained hospitalized in stable condition, according to reports.
The tragedy unfolded Thursday on Table Lake Rock in Branson, when the boat from adventure-tour company Ride the Ducks overturned as a severe thunderstorm swept in. The dead included nine members of one vacationing Indianapolis family. Only two of the Coleman relatives survived.
Passengers of the doomed land-and-water tour were told the company switched its usual route and headed to the lake first because of the impending storm, survivor Tia Coleman — whose husband and three kids were killed — in an interview from her hospital bed Friday.
“There was a warning… the warning people said take them out to the water first, before the storm hits,” she told Fox59 of Indianapolis.
The storm was preceded by what meteorologists called a “gust front,” a line of winds reaching 70 miles per hour.
“I wouldn’t call it a ‘microburst,’” said National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Albano, who said a severe thunderstorm warning was issued around the same time the 6:30 p.m. tour departed.
The water was already whipping up when the duck boat, which travels on both land and sea, set sail, Coleman said.
The lake became “big huge waves, choppy, everybody started getting like, ‘Hey, this is getting a little bit too much,’” said Coleman, “and then it got really choppy and big swells of water started coming in to the boat.”
The National Transportation Safety Board and U.S. Coast Guard are investigating. The NTSB put out a call for witnesses to come foreward, especially those with photos or videos of the sinking of the Ride the Ducks vessel.
The probe could take a year to complete, officials said.
Seven victims were found on board the vessel when it was recovered, and four of them appeared to have been trapped under the duck boat’s canopy, according to the Kansas City Star.
The NTSB recommended that duck boats remove canopies after an investigation into a 1999 accident on Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs, Arksansas, in which 13 peopled died when a duck boat took on water and sank suddenly.
With Post Wire Services
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