NewsLocal NewsInvestigations


OSHA investigating duck boat tragedy

Company with no previous OSHA safety violations
Posted at 6:13 PM, Jul 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-20 19:25:42-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened a new investigation of the Table Rock Lake duck boat tragedy.

OSHA Spokesman Scott Allen says compliance officers are at the scene.

Allen says the company has no past history of safety violations.

Ripley Entertainment, which owns other attractions like Ripley's Believe It or Not, bought the company from Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation last December.

The current corporate entity registered in Missouri is Ride the Ducks International LLC.

The company has been around in various forms and with various owners for more than 40 years.

The registered agent for the company in Missouri is Capitol Corporate Services Inc. which operates in all 50 states.

A spokeswoman says that company serves as the registered agent for Ride the Ducks International in four states.

They are Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia and California.

The registered agent provides a building address for legal papers to be sent, including lawsuits.

The address for Ride the Ducks International in Missouri is in Jefferson City.

Federal records show duck boats are very popular attractions around the country in places like the Wisconsin Dells, Key West and San Diego.

Those same federal records found only a handful of accidents in the last couple of years and no fatalities on duck boats until yesterday.

The worst previous disaster took place in Arkansas in 1999 when a duck boat owned by a different company sank killing 13 people.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigated that incident.

NTSB findings from that incident included the canopies over the top of the ducks can be a problem because they make it harder for people to escape.

If canopies from ducks are removed for water transportation, NTSB recommended requiring passengers to wear life jackets.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, duck boats fall under the Code of Federal Regulations Title 46 sub chapter T, which regulates small vessels or boats.

Those regulations include periodic inspections including safety equipment like life jackets.

Regulations require life jackets, including ones made for children.

It's unclear at this point if anyone was able to put a life jacket on, how accessible the jackets may have been or even if they would've made a difference once the duck capsized.

The NTSB, after the 1999 Arkansas tragedy, recommended against people wearing life jacket on ducks with canopies.