Pokin Around: Who is to Blame for the 1999 Duck Boat Tragedy?

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo- Steve Pokin joins us now with another Pokin Around segment talking about the duck boat accident in 1999 in Arkansas.

A federal agency’s report compiled after a duck boat sank in 1999 near Hot Springs, Arkansas, killing 13 people, concluded that the U.S. Coast Guard was partially to blame due to poor maintenance oversight and urged the Coast Guard to demand that companies retrofit such boats for greater buoyancy to try to avert a future tragedy.

That recommendation was never followed, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Alana Miller, based in Washington, D.C.

The National Transportation Safety Board noted in an April 2002 report – following the Hot Springs tragedy – that something had to be done to slow down how quickly duck boats sink to increase the chances that passengers could don life vests and survive.

As built, the NTSB report concluded, duck boats pose “an unacceptable level of risk to passenger safety.”

The report continued: “Because the industry has, by and large, refused to take voluntary action to address this risk, the safety board considers it imperative that the Coast Guard take steps to ensure that all amphibious passenger vehicles will not sink in the event of an uncontrolled flooding event.”

According to the report, one expert said buoyancy could be increased on duck boats at a cost of about $12,000 per boat.

Last week, 17 people died in a duck boat that sank on Table Rock Lake. 

None of the 31 people on board the Ride the Ducks duck boat wore a life vest. In fact, according to one survivor, the captain said a life vest was not needed.

For more on his story click here

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