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Smithville Lake boaters react to Table Rock Lake tragedy

Posted at 5:55 PM, Jul 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-20 19:30:38-04

SMITHVILLE, Mo. — Boaters at Smithville Lake said it's hard to fathom the tragedy at Table Rock Lake Thursday night. Seventeen people died after a duck boat capsized and sank amid strong storm winds.

“I can’t imagine the terror that would have went on there,” Richard Hubbard said.

Hubbard owns property at Table Rock Lake and even rode on a duck boat years ago.

“I’ve seen how low they sit in the water, and they aren’t really made for that kind of weather,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard said he thought the storm came up on Table Rock Lake differently than severe weather would approach Smithville Lake

“Well a lot of it is, you can’t see a storm coming up on you. I mean you down there on the ravine and stuff like that. That’s what’s happened to me a lot of the time. You can see the sun shining in the one spot and you turn around and here comes the storm and you’re caught right in it,” Hubbard said.

He said he’s even been caught in a bad storm there before.

“You imagine the storm coming in and then you have all the other waves coming in and there was no other place to go, except keep putting and it’s probably the scariest thing I’ve ever been through,” Hubbard said.

The wind is something Smithville Lake Chief Park Ranger John Davis said has the most impact on boats. 

“It can be dangerous. You can get your boat swamped or some boats can sink. It's something you have to be very cautious of,” Davis said. 

Davis also said it's best to avoid these situations, keep your eye on the sky and tabs on the forecast before getting into the lake. Also, make sure to wear a life vest when on a boat. Children 7 years old and younger are required to wear one.

The weather is something that Hubbard keeps in mind as he prays for the families who lost a loved one Thursday.

“It was one of those 'caught in a bad place at the wrong time,' and I don’t know what could have been done about it," Hubbard said.