13 dead, others missing after boat capsizes on Table Rock Lake in stormy weather

NEAR BRANSON, Mo. • At least 13 people were killed and four others were missing after a tourist boat capsized on Table Rock Lake as a powerful storm moved through on Thursday night, the Missouri Highway Patrol said.

Sgt. Jason Pace of the Highway Patrol gave the grim tally early Friday. He said the victims ranged from children, possibly as young as 1 year old, to elderly.

The boat had carried 31 people in all. Fourteen people survived; seven of those were injured, and one of the seven had serious injuries, Pace said.


Pace said the 12th and 13th bodies were pulled from the lake overnight.

Dive team rescue operations worked overnight in waters as deep as 80 feet, Pace said.

The boat is submerged and cannot be seen from the surface.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said that seven people were taken by ambulance from the scene where the tourist boat known as Ride the Ducks “capsized and sank.”  Rader said the dead are believed to have drowned.

The disaster had apparently been caused by the storm, Rader said. The National Weather Service said wind speeds up to 63 mph were reported at the Branson Airport at about 7:30 p.m. Witness video from Table Rock LakeA witness aboard the Branson Belle showboat captured video of two of the so-called duck boats on the lake, apparently just before one of them capsized. The video shows the boats rocking as large waves slam into them. The boats have wheels and can be driven into the water.

Rader said an off-duty deputy from his department had been at the scene when the boat went under. He credited the deputy with rescuing some of the boat’s passengers.

People who had relatives on the boat were urged to go to Branson City Hall to await reports. An emergency phone line of 417-337-8515 was set up for people who couldn't get to that location.

Officials with the Southern Stone County Fire Protection District said at about 8:20 p.m. that crews from several agencies and divers were on scene. The fire district said the Branson Belle was used in the rescue but was not involved.

Late Thursday, Gov. Mike Parson tweeted: "Very sad to hear about this horrible accident — prayers for all those involved and the first responders who are assisting."

Table Rock Lake was created in August 1958, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the White River. The lake, with more than 800 miles of shoreline, is a popular vacation and recreation destination in southwest Missouri.

A witness aboard the Branson Belle showboat captured video of two of the so-called duck boats on the lake, apparently just before one of them capsized. The video shows the boats rocking as large waves slam into them. The boats have wheels and can be driven into the water.

President Trump posted a message on Twitter Friday morning about the accident. "Such a tragedy, such a great loss," he tweeted, in part.


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