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Duck boats in Branson shut down operations after boat sinks, killing 17

BRANSON, Mo. -- After 17 people were killed when a duck boat got caught in a storm and sank, the Branson company said it will be closed while officials investigate.

The Ride the Ducks boat sank Thursday night in Table Rock Lake. There were 31 people on board the boat. The victims’ names haven’t been released yet.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace said 14 people survived, including seven who were injured and treated at a nearby hospital. Two adults are in critical condition and the others were treated for minor injuries, according to a hospital spokesperson.

The company issued the following statement Friday:

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident that occurred at Ride The Ducks Branson. This incident has deeply affected all of us. Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking. We will continue to do all we can to assist the families who were involved. The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority. Ride the Ducks will be closed for business while we support the investigation, and to allow time to grieve for the families and the community. Thank you for your support, and we ask that your thoughts and prayers be with the families during this time.”

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said Thursday that stormy weather likely made the boat sank.

Steve Lindenberg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Springfield, Missouri, said the agency issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Branson area Thursday evening. Lindenberg said winds reached speeds of more than 60 mph.

Another duck boat on the lake made it safely back to shore.

Duck boats, which can travel on land and in water, have been involved in other deadly incidents in the past. Five college students were killed in 2015 in Seattle when a duck boat collided with a bus, and 13 people died in 1999 when a duck boat sank near Hot Springs, Arkansas.