Duck Boats to reopen in Missouri after 2018 tragedy that killed 17

BRANSON, Mo. (KY3/Gray News) – Duck rides will return to Branson nearly four years after a tragedy killed 17 people on Table Rock Lake.

The Branson Duck Tours is newly owned and operated. The attraction will have a new location, departing from Branson Landing and setting sail on Lake Taneycomo.

Communications director Josh Blumenthal said the tours will include newer, safer, U.S. Coast Guard-approved boats called Hydra-Terra amphibious vehicles.

“The biggest improvement to our vehicles that sets them apart is the foam-filled hull that prevents sinking,” Blumenthal says KY3.

Blumenthal said additional safety measures include visibility of the captain from all passenger seats, wider aisles and an improved fire suppression system.

“Our boats won’t have side curtains, and I think that’s really important,” Blumenthal said. “That was such a big part of what added to the tragedy of 2018.”

Branson Landing Director of Marketing Nikki Kinney said having fun for families in Branson is very important. She hopes the extra security measures will put visitors at ease.

“I’m going to put my family on it, I’m going to ride it this spring,” Kinney said. “I have no problem getting inside one of them, and I’m very excited about the brand new ship they have for us.”

Survivor Tia Coleman lost nine family members in the July 19, 2018 Duck Boat tragedy. The amphibious vehicle sank with 31 people on board, killing 17.

Coleman’s attorney, Andrew Duffy, said the families would not agree to bringing Duck Tours back to Table Rock Lake. The family, however, is fine with the change in location and the increased safety of these boats.

“As long as this new duck company puts safety first and makes sure their staff are properly trained, can disable entertainment and activate safety procedures immediately, then I’m not saying this type of duck shouldn’t be allowed anywhere,” Duffy said.

Tours are expected to begin in late April or early May.

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