Last Thursday’s Duck Boat tragedy that took 17 lives on Table Rock Lake near Branson is the second such mass casualty episode in the region.

Victim of 1999 Duck Boat Accident Martin Patton (Image courtesy of KOLR-TV)

A man lost three of his family members in a Duck Boat accident nearly 20 years ago. The Miss Majestic sank on Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1999, killing 13 of the 21 people aboard.

Martin Patton says the latest accident probably could have been prevented.  He’s frustrated safety problems with Duck Boat canopies haven’t been addressed.

“Why have these not changed?” Patton told KOLR-TV. “20 years ago they told them, you need to do something about the canopy. It happens again and again and again. Something needs to be done. It just does. It’s insane. I really hoped that our lawsuit 20 years ago would have made some of these changes that would have let more of these people out.”

In a report issued in 2002, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that the high loss of life on the Miss Majestic was partially the result of a continuous canopy roof that entrapped passengers within the sinking vehicle.

St. Louis area private vehicle inspector Steve Paul, who traveled to Branson last year to look over a number of Ride the Ducks vehicles, said the canopy over the passengers turned the boat into a “people trapper”.

According to a Philadelphia law firm that has represented victims in previous duck boat accidents, Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, at least 43 people have died in duck boat mishaps in the United States since 1999.

The chairman of the NTSB when the Arkansas mishap occurred, Jim Hall, has called for a permanent ban of duck boats as amusement rides. Hall said the U.S. Coast Guard or Congress should act to ban the vessels immediately.

Hall told KMBC-TV that the Coast Guard lacks resources to provide “adequate oversight” of duck boat safety and said the industry and the state never took enough action after the NTSB’s recommendations following the Arkansas tragedy.

Missouri’s U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill (D) and Roy Blunt (R) have expressed a willingness to explore legislative solutions to increase safety and prevent future tragedies on amphibious vehicles such as Duck Boats.

Republican Congressman Billy Long, whose district includes Branson and Table Rock Lake, is not yet prepared to call for Congressional hearings but says it’s important to have a thorough NTSB investigation.

Missourinet media partner KOLR-TV provided some of the content for this report