(Operations manager Scott McCaulley at Missourinet Branson affiliate KRZK Radio contributed to this story)
Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (R) says Congress could pass legislation aimed at improving duck boat safety, following the July incident on Table Rock Lake near Branson which killed 17 people.
Blunt traveled to Branson this past weekend to tour Faith Community Health, where he discussed health care and the opioid epidemic.
Senator Blunt spoke to Missourinet Branson affiliate KRZK Radio (FM 106.3) on Saturday at the event. Blunt tells KRZK that he’s contacting the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), to find out how the duck boat investigation is going.
“There may very well be some legislative effort that needs to be made to ensure that safety standards that are established are met,” Blunt says.
Blunt serves on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which has oversight over the NTSB.
While Blunt’s Missouri colleague, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) has filed legislation aimed at improving duck boat safety, Blunt wants Congress to be deliberative.
He notes the U.S. House is not in session during August, as House members are back in their districts.
“But there’s no particular reason in my view to rush to a piece of legislation when the information is going to be out there,” says Blunt. “I was here (Table Rock Lake) and met with the investigators the very day they got here.”
Senator McCaskill’s bill would mandate recommendations proposed by federal safety investigators in 1999, when 13 people were killed in a duck boat incident in Arkansas.
Her bill would require amphibious passenger vessels to be equipped to stay afloat in the event of flooding. It would also require duck boats to remove canopies, and calls for increased inspections until all vessels are upgraded.
“Nearly 20 years ago following a similar incident, recommendations were made to help prevent tragedies like we experienced in Branson but they were largely ignored,” McCaskill said on July 31. “It’ll take some time before we know exactly what went wrong in Branson, but there’s absolutely no reason to wait to take this commonsense step.”
U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, whose district includes Branson, has said Congress must do whatever is needed to try to prevent future tragedies from happening.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) says there are multiple investigations into the tragedy.
Hawley says the NTSB and the U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the sinking of the vessel itself.
Hawley says the Missouri State Highway Patrol is overseeing the investigation into the circumstances that led to the incident.
The “Kansas City Star” reported Tuesday that the U.S. Coast Guard has referred the deadly July duck boat incident to federal prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office for Missouri’s Western District.
Meantime, Senator Blunt tells KRZK that the Table Rock Lake incident is a tragedy for everyone involved.
“The people that were responsible for that business, I know they’ve been devastated by this in many ways including emotionally,” Blunt says. “The (Indiana) family that lost almost their entire family on that duck boat.”
Blunt says that family will never recover. He also says it has impacted rescuers and survivors.
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