History of the duck boats

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Duck boats have been used for tours for many years – but there is a history of deadly accidents that come with it. Over the past two decades, at least three dozen people have been killed in duck boat accidents.

They were originally designed in 1942 and first used in World War II because of their ability to drive on land and sea. They were called DUKW boats, and the acronym from GMC stood for D: Designed in 1942; U: Utility; K: All wheel drive; W: Dual-tandem rear axles. They were called Duck boats for short.

They were never designed for civilian use. The driver sits 10-to-12 feet behind the bow, so vision is limited, and there are a lot of blind spots.

Over the past two decades, at least 36 people have died in Duck boat accidents. Up until last night, the deadliest of these accidents happened in 1999 on Hamilton Lake near Hot Springs, AR. Thirteen people died when the boat started taking in water and sank.

In 2010, two Hungarian tourists died in Philadelphia when a barge hit a Duck boat on the Delaware River. Five years later, another person died in Philly when a Duck boat hit her as she crossed the street.

In Seattle, of that same year, five college students died when a Duck boat crashed into a bridge.

In 2016, two women were killed in Boston in separate accidents as they crossed two different intersections.

And now this – at least 13 dead and four still missing at Table Rock Lake, Mo, after a storm caused the Duck Boat to capsize.

Viewers on Facebook who have ridden this Duck boat are writing to help us better understand how they look and operate. Rocky Christa McLaughlin wrote, “The top is attached but you can swim out the sides. The sides have plastic curtain they put down for rain, but it moves like a mini blind. There is also an exit where you enter boat at back.”

Nicc Hippy wrote, “I believe once the boat capsized they were trapped. They should have put vests on and jumped out before it capsized. So sad. Prayers to all involved and their families.”

And Tina Dye wrote, “There are life jackets, but they are hanging and not quickly accessible. There are sides and top to the boat, with the winds, rapid waves, and chaos, I am sure it was nearly impossible to get them on.”

Ride the Ducks Branson said in a statement released on its website it was deeply saddened and the business would be closed “while we support the investigation, and to allow time to grieve for the families and the community.”


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