New Evidence Surfaces in the Branson Duck Boat Drownings


Video and audio recordings were salvaged by divers after the Branson Duck Boat sank, drowning 17 of the 31 people on board. The recordings provide information about the final minutes before the boat sank.

The boat had a driver when the boat was on land, and a captain when the boat was on the water. Both the captain and driver boarded the boat at 6:27 according to the video. Normally the boat stays on land for a tour of the community and then enters the water for a 20-minute boat ride.

The video shows an unidentified person stepped on the rear of the boat at 6:28 and told the crew to take the water portion first. A minute later passengers boarded the boat. The recordings show the captain referred to looking at the weather radar prior to the trip.

The duck boat entered the water around 6:55. During the next five minutes the captain allowed four different children to sit in the driver’s seat.

After 7:00pm, white caps appeared on the water. The driver lowered the plastic side curtains at 7:01. At the same time, the captain made a comment about the storm.

At 7:03, the captain made an unintelligible call on a handheld radio. At 7:04, an electronic tone associated with the bilge pump activated. About a minute later the captain reached down and the alarm stopped. At 7:07, the captain made another call that was unintelligible. Water continued to splash inside the passenger compartment. At 7:07 the bilge alarm sounded. At 7:08 the video recording stopped.

Steve Paul, owner of Test Drive Technologies in the St. Louis area, said the alarms meant there was a significant amount of water in the hull.

(Photo courtesy: National Transportation Safety Board Photo of the SD card recovered from the digital video recorder system aboard the Branson Duck Boat that sank on Table Rock Lake July 19th.)