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NTSB Finds Black Box on Sunken Ride the Ducks Boat

TABLE ROCK LAKE, Mo -- The black box will contain video from the camera aboard the Ride the Ducks boat, and NTSB hopes to learn what happened before the boat sank.

On Saturday, Earl Weener, a Board Member from the National Transportation Safety Board, says they recovered a crucial item in their search -- a black box with video from the camera on board the sunken Ride the Ducks boat. 

"That is on it's way to Washington D.C. even as we speak to be processed in the NTSB labs there, dried out and as soon as its available and in useable condition we'll read that out and analyze what the contents show us," Weener says.  

The NTSB is working it's investigation centered around safety. A big part of their job is finding out how weather information was relayed. Ride The Ducks uses a weather subscription service. 

"That information was available in the offices from what we understand, we want to understand how that information was passed on to the people who made the decisions to go out at that time," Weener says.  

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley attended the conference, and explained the two separate investigations taking place. 

"There are two investigations going on. There is the NTSB investigation into safety procedures.  Then there is the state investigation -- the highway patrol investigation-- into the circumstances of this situation. It is technically a criminal investigation because they need to determine, was there criminal neglegence, what exactly went on," says Hawley.  

The Highway Patrol has already released its findings that the cause of the accident was from high winds. While the NTSB has not ruled on a cause, they say winds reached up to 73 miles per hour. 

"To put that in context, hurricane force winds are usually starting at 75," says Weener.  

Scott Stoermer, Commander for the U.S. Coast Guards Upper Mississipi River Sector, says they are working with Ride the Ducks on a plan to get the boat out of the water, where it sits 80 feet under the surface. 

"We expect and are putting together the resources to effect that salvage, we're hopeful that will happen in the early part of next week," says Stoermer.  

NTSB has also obtained records on inspections, certifications, maintenance, and incident histories on the sunken boat.

When asked about life jackets being on the boat, Stoermer added that they are looking to see if Ride the Ducks followed the requirements for their operations. 

Stoermer says the Coast Guard expects commercial mariners to make the best operational decisions they can based on the conditions that they expect to experience. 

As the NTSB and the Missouri State Highway Patrol continue their investigations, anyone with video of the duck boat from Thursday, July 19th, is asked to send it in. For NTSB, that email address is witness@ntsb.gov


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