Washington, July 21 (IANS) Nine of the 17 people who died when a tour boat sank in a Missouri lake in the US on Thursday were from the same family, according to the state’s governor.
Governor Michael Parson said that he spoke to the woman who has also accused the boat’s captain for putting the lives of the passengers in danger by suggesting “not to put on life jackets”, the BBC reported.
The sightseeing “duck boat” is a modification of a World War II design vessel meant to deliver people and materials ashore where no port facilities existed.
On Thursday the duck boat on the popular Table Rock Lake was carrying 31 people when it overturned. Missouri Highway Patrol said the ages of the deceased range from one to 70.
A Fox59 News quoted Tia Coleman who said she lost all her children, her husband, parents-in-law, an uncle, her sister-in-law and her nephew.
“The captain told us ‘Don’t worry about grabbing the life jackets, you won’t need them,’ so nobody grabbed them because we listened to the captain and he told us to stay seated,” the BBC quoted Coleman as saying.
She said by the time the riders tried to grab the life jackets it was too late. “I believe that a lot of people could have been spared.”
The captain was among those who survived. He is now in a hospital. The vessel began taking on water shortly before 7 p.m. on Thursday. Video footage shot by a witness on shore showed two duck boats struggling through choppy waters and spray, the BBC reported.
One of the boats made it to shore but the other was driven back by the wind and eventually overwhelmed.
Missouri law requires all children under the age of seven to wear life jackets on boats, unless they are in the “cabin area”, the BBC said.
The vessel sank in 40ft of water before plunging to a final depth of 80ft.
Sheriff Doug Rader said divers have located the sunken boat and would try to recover it.
Jim Pattison Jr, the tour boat company owner, said the storm appeared to have taken people in the area by surprise. The boat, he told the US media, “shouldn’t have been in the water”.
“Usually the lake is very placid and it’s not a long tour, they go in and kind of around an island and back.