Missouri duck boat engineer had no training or qualifications, reveals fatal accident from 2015
After the tragic duck boat accident in Missouri one week ago that claimed the lives of 17, investigators have been delving deeper into what caused this robust vessel to capsize and take its 31 passengers down with it. It was later discovered that the former owner of the company was modifying 60-year-old boats without any real solid knowledge - and was responsible for the deaths of another five people in Washington just three years ago.
Local man Robert McDowell had been involved in the ‘Ride The Ducks’ business for nearly 30 years before selling the company in 2004. This was after his dad had purchased the original business in 1976. When McDowell took over, they were using duck boats that had been designed for operation in World War Two, making them nearly 40 years-old. These are the same vessels being used today and questions are being asked as to whether this raises safety issues in itself. To make matters even worse, McDowell was converting these boats simply off knowledge he’d been ‘told of’ by speaking to a past owner. He revealed that he was going to scrap yards to find old drainage pumps and engine parts etc. to modify the duck boats for more efficient tourist use.
Last year, a company named Test Drive Technologies had been deployed to assess the suitability of these boats for continuous operation. The report they had written suggested that many attributes of the boat would be likely to fail if the weather was treacherous - footage on the day of the accident shows the conditions were just that. It seems a foolish decision to send the boat out on the water with the knowledge that bad weather is on the way...
The company also expressed that dangers of duck boats in general, especially during a capsize. They pointed out the canopy that sits above passengers, saying that once the boat sinks it could be near impossible to escape from underneath it, trapping the passengers under the water for many minutes.
Passengers were told they would not require lifejackets.
It’s unclear what the next steps are going to be in this investigation, but we can assume that Mr McDowell and current owners will suffer serious consequences for the poor decisions they’ve made in the past.