Coast Guard raises sunken duck boat after 17 people killed in Missouri

Inspector says he warned company about potentially dangerous design flaw

BRANSON, Mo. – Investigators in Branson, Missouri, raised the sunken duck boat Monday after 17 people were killed when the boat sank during near-hurricane winds.

Divers in the water secured cables to the sunken boat before raising it 80 feet to the surface. Unused life jackets were still hanging from the roof.

"The life-saving requirements and the regulations require that personal flotation devices be on board for all passengers, and the decision to don those PFD's is made as an operational decision by the captain on board," said Capt. Scott Stormer, the sector commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River.

The wreckage now goes to the NTSB, which is investigating Thursday's incident.

Nine of the victims were from Tia Coleman's family.

"I don't know how I am going to do it," Coleman said.

Her husband and three children were among the victims.

"Since I've had a home, it's always been filled," Coleman said. "It's always been filled with little feet and laughter."

Officials said wind conditions Thursday were near hurricane strength, with waves as high as six feet.

The tour boat company has voluntarily suspended operations during the investigation.

Meanwhile, a private inspector has come forward, saying he warned the company last summer about a potentially dangerous design flaw.

"Since my inspection, I've convinced my family not to ride the ducks," said Steven Paul, of Test Drive Technologies.

Paul said the exhaust system could allow water to enter the boat, and the design of the canopy with the side panels down could create a trap for anyone on the boat.

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