Families sue after 17 killed in duck boat accident on Missouri's Table Rock Lake

Published: Monday, July 30, 2018 @ 3:10 PM
Updated: Monday, July 30, 2018 @ 3:10 PM

Multiple Dead In Duck Boat Accident On Missouri's Table Rock Lake

Family members who lost loved ones when a duck boat sank in Missouri’s Table Rock Lake earlier this month have filed suit against the companies involved in the incident, claiming that the boat’s operators knew that their boat designs and weather conditions made the July 19 excursion unsafe.

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Seventeen people died when the boat sank as powerful winds swept through the area. Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said the victims ranged in age from 1 to 76 years old and included nine members of the Coleman family. Eleven of the Colemans were on the Ride the Ducks Branson boat July 19 after they traveled to the city for an annual family road trip, according to multiple reports.

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Members of the Coleman family filed a federal lawsuit Sunday seeking $100 million in damages, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. A separate suit was filed Monday in Missouri’s Taney County Circuit Court on behalf of three sisters who lost their parents in the incident.

In the Coleman family’s filing, family members said Ride the Ducks Branson owner Ripley Entertainment, “recklessly risked the lives of its passengers for purely financial reasons.”

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“Despite being aware of impending severe weather conditions, Ripley intentionally decide to take the Duck Boat out onto Table Rock Lake instead of cancelling the tour and refunding the patrons’ money,” the lawsuit said. “This tragedy was the predictable and predicted result of decades of unacceptable, greed-driven, and willful ignorance of safety by the Duck Boat industry in the face of specific and repeated warnings that their Duck Boats are death traps for passengers and pose grave danger to the public on water and on land.”

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Similar claims were made in the wrongful death suit filed Monday by three daughters of William and Janice Bright, of Higginsville, Missouri. The Brights’ daughters, Michelle Chaffer, Chistina Taylor and Rebekah Wittington, accused Ripley and the boat’s operators of being "well aware of the approaching storm, but rather than lose out on profit, they chose to try and beat the storm," according to the lawsuit.

Thirty-one people were onboard the duck boat when it sank July 19.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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