On July 19, Ride the Ducks—owned by Ripley Entertainment—took a duck boat with 31 people in it onto Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri. The NTSB revealed earlier this week that the captain was aware of a thunderstorm warning issued by the authorities only minutes before taking the vessel into the water.
The thunderstorm arrived quickly and violently, barraging the duck boat with 65 mph winds. The vessel quickly started taking on water and eventually capsized. Other duck boat accidents have shown that these boats, which sit low in the water, take very little time to sink. Due to their design, they're also difficult to escape from, leading some duck boat lawyers to call them "sinking coffins" or "death traps."
Seventeen people died in the accident—several more were injured, some critically.
Fighting for Change
Our firm is representing the family of a 15-year-old girl who survived the tragedy, but not without suffering significant anguish and trauma. Our client—the girl's mother—filed a lawsuit against Ripley Entertainment for allowing an unseaworthy vessel to unjustly endanger and harm passengers.
“[The boat] was recklessly taken out on the water despite knowing about impending rough weather that made the voyage patently unsafe,” Attorney Cory Itkin was quoted saying in an Orlando Sentinel article. “Ripley Entertainment was further aware through prior inspections that the duck boat was not fit for voyages in such weather. These problems were simply ignored, resulting in tragedy.”
These vessels have been tolerated for decades, allowing innocent people to be hurt or killed due to outdated, unsafe design. Ride the Ducks knew about these problems but failed to do anything to mitigate the risk. Our hope is to shed light on their conduct so we can help our client get what she needs to move forward—while ensuring this never happens again.