BRANSON, Mo. - The US Coast Guard raised the sunken duck boat from Table Rock Lake Monday morning. Authorities thought it would take several hours to complete the operation, but they had the boat back to the surface long before noon.
Missouri State Highway Patrol divers entered the lake around 9:30 a.m. Monday. Not long after that an eerie scene appeared, a lone life vest popped to the surface.
US Coast Guard Captain Scott Stoermer said before crews brought up the sunken vessel they took photos of the duck boat as part of their investigation.
“Everything on the bottom was photographed by the divers and they conducted a survey to assess its condition on the bottom,” Stoermer said.
Divers next attached a sling to the sunken boat.
“They raised the vessel just slightly to determine its stability and adjusted the rig if that was necessary,” Captain Stoermer said.
Last Thursday night, the duck boat was carrying 31 passengers on the lake when a strong storm hit, packing winds just below hurricane strength. Seventeen people died, including nine members of one family from Indiana. Two of the family members survived; one said people were told not to put on life jackets.
Those life jackets finally resurfaced Monday morning.
“The regulations require that personal flotation devices be on board for all passengers,” Stoermer said. “The decision to don those PFDs is made as an operational decision by the captain on board.”
In nearby Branson, people continued to visit a makeshift memorial at the Ride the Ducks business, which remains closed.
“I want to honor the people lost in this tragedy and show my respect,” said memorial visitor Linda Jones.
Folks had hoped the raising of the duck boat would reveal important evidence for investigators.
“I really hope they do find something why, I know the weather was bad,” said Tanya Fath.
The boat will remain in a secure location as National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine the vessel.