Missouri lake where 17 drowned could get new duck boat tours

Associated Press
The Rolla Daily News

BRANSON — A new company said it is planning to bring tours featuring "unsinkable" amphibious boats back to a Missouri lake where 17 people drowned when a duck boat sank in 2018. 

The owners of Branson Duck Tours LLC said they hope to begin the tours on Table Rock Lake near Branson late this spring, The Kansas City Star reported.

The duck boat tours were a longtime popular attraction in the tourist town but had not returned to the lake since the tragedy.

To date, the city hasn't received a business license application from the new company, which has not contacted any city departments, spokeswoman Melody Pettit said.

Boats used in the new venture will not resemble the World War II-era amphibious boats that were in use when a boat sank in July 2018 during a storm, said Jaredan Braal, of Memphis, Tennessee, co-owner of the new venture.

The new boat tours would use Hydra-Terra amphibious vessels, which include foam-filled compartments in the hull for buoyancy. The company said on its website that the boat's "design has been proven to be UNSINKABLE."

"This is a completely different vehicle with greatly improved safety. ... The similarities are it is an amphibious tour." Braal said.

Ripley Entertainment, which owned the duck boat that sank,  settled 31 lawsuits related to the tragedy. Criminal charges filed against three Ripley employees were dismissed in December.