KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The former head of the National Transportation Safety Board is calling for an end to duck boat tours in light of last week's tragedy on Table Rock Lake, according to USA TODAY.
Former NTSB chairman Jim Hall was in charge of the agency during a similar duck boat sinking that killed 13 people in 1999 near Hot Springs, Arkansas.
"My feeling after seeing this one is that the only thing to do in the name of public safety is to ban them," he told the outlet.
Hall isn't alone. Some Missouri Lawmakers are also questioning the safety of the boats.
Cassville Republican Sen. David Sater on Monday said he's waiting on the results of the federal investigation into Thursday's accident, but pledged that "this issue will not get dropped."
Another local lawmaker, Republican Rep. Don Phillips, says he's not sure whether there's a legislative fix. But he questioned why passengers were not wearing life jackets. He said it would be a commonsense policy to wear them while on the lake.
Missouri law requires boat passengers ages 7 and younger to wear life jackets whenever they're on the water, but commercial vessels like the duck boat that sank are exempt. Three of the people who died Thursday were age 7 or younger.
Robert Mongeluzzi is a Philadelphia attorney who represented the families of two people killed in 2010, when a barge collided with a Ride the Ducks boat on the Delaware River. The tragedy led to a $17 million settlement.
In a statement to our NBC affiliate in Philadelphia, Mongeluzzi called the vessels "death traps operating on land and in the water."
"After this tragedy, we again ask, what does it take for tour operators to realize that they cannot value profit more than human life and public safety?" he said.
Mongeluzzi's colleague, Andrew Duffy, also emphasized safety concerns in an interview with NBC 10.
"When they sink quickly, they pull passengers down with them, because the canopy itself entraps them and doesn't allow them to escape," Duffy said.
That same danger was flagged by the NTSB after the duck boat sank near Hot Springs in 1999. The agency recommended removing canopies, because they could trap passengers inside the boats.
Why changes were never made is now part of the investigation in Branson.
"We will review the previous recommendations that have been made by the NTSB, and we will conduct this investigation to ensure that recommendations are made to ensure the safety of these vehicles and see how the recommendations have been handled in the past," NTSB spokesman Brian Young said.
Read more about other incidents involving duck boats here.