The U.S. Coast Guard has referred the investigation into the deadly sinking of a Ride the Ducks Boat to the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City to consider a potential criminal investigation and federal prosecution.
The news comes as another family member of one of the 17 victims filed a lawsuit against Ripley Entertainment the company that owns the tourist attraction.
According to the lawsuit filed by William Asher’s daughter, the company placed profits over people and deliberately ignored minimum safety standards and failed to properly train employees.
Asher and Rosie Hamann, his girlfriend, boarded the duck boat on July 19. They were two of the 17 victims who died in the wreck.
Before they ever boarded the duck boat, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Table Rock lake through 9 p.m. that fateful night.
“We know that they had knowledge of this storm and in fact despite that knowledge still chose to move forward with the tour," attorney John Wilbers said.
According to the lawsuit, at 6:15 p.m. a severe weather statement was issued indicating wind gusts of 70 miles per hour were possible.
At 6:29 p.m. passengers began boarding the duck boat vehicle as the captain of the boat remarked on the developing weather and looking at the weather radar. At 6:32 a severe thunderstorm warning was issued.
Around 6:50 p.m. the captain provided a safety briefing but did not encourage or require passengers to wear life-jackets.
At 6:55 p.m., the boat entered the water approximately 23 minutes after the warning for Table Rock Lake was issued. About 5-6 minutes later whitecaps appeared on the water.
From 7:04-7:05 p.m., an alarm sounded indicating dangerous levels of high water in the bilge. At 7:07 p.m., a second alarm sounded, then the onboard recorder stopped operating and at 7:09 p.m., the first 911 calls were recorded.
Attorneys say the severe weather crashing against the boat, the sound of alarms and the sinking vessel were the final and terrorizing moments of Asher’s life.
Seventeen of 31 passengers drowned, not one of which was wearing a life jacket.
The unused jackets were still attached to the Stretch Duck 07 when it was pulled from the lake.
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