UPDATE: The Stone County, MO. Sheriff’s Office has released the identities of the 17 victims:William Asher, 69
Rosemarie Hamann, 68
Janice Bright, 63
William Bright, 65
Angela Coleman, 45
Arya Coleman, 1
Belinda Coleman, 69
Ervin Coleman, 76
Evan Coleman, 7
Glenn Coleman, 40
Horace Coleman, 70
Maxwell Coleman, 2
Reece Coleman, 9
Leslie Dennison, 64
Bob Williams, 73
Lance Smith, 15
Steve Smith, 53------
UPDATE: On Friday night, KCTV5 News discovered that Bill and Jan Bright were two of the people who were killed in the duck boat tragedy.
They had only lived in Higginsville for a short time, but their deaths will have a lasting impact on people who knew them.
Time is frozen on one street in Higginsville. The house where they lived near the center of town looks almost the same as the day they left, except for a handmade memorial.
Their friend Barbara Beck said it was their last overnight trip together. A chance to have time to themselves.
“They were on that boat and they both didn’t make it,” she said. “I just know they were both together when that happened. Hanging on to each other’s hands.”
The couple was married in 1973 and moved to Higginsville about three years ago.
Jan collected bears. Bill fished when he got the chance.
Beck said that, almost every afternoon, they were with some of their grandchildren.
“They were very good people, all around, I think,” she said.
Now Beck, who left mementos for the couple on their front porch, knows she’ll have to say goodbye to her friends too soon. “Right now, I’m just really devastated and I can’t imagine going to their funeral at the same time,” she said.
The family’s church is collecting meals to help their children.
Previous coverage below.A duck boat capsized and sank during a severe thunderstorm at Table Rock Lake near Branson, killing 17 people, some of them children, authorities said.
The boat capsized on the lake Thursday at around 7:12 p.m. due to heavy winds. There were 31 people aboard.
Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said early Friday morning that 14 people survived the incident. One of those people was the captain. Out of those 14, seven were injured and seven were not hurt.
Of the seven injured, two have critical injuries and five have minor injuries.
The Western Taney County Fire dive team worked on rescuing people until 11:30 p.m. and the Missouri Highway Patrol Dive team took over the mission on Friday morning. Eleven bodies were pulled from the lake during Thursday's rescue operation. Six more were recovered on Friday morning.
Those who died range in age from 1 to 70 years old. One of them was the driver who handled the land portion of the amphibious attraction.
Update: Of the 17 killed, nine were from one family, according to the governor's office. Two family members survived, including a teen boy. They were from Indiana.
A phone number has been established for family members to call. It is 417-337-8515. Branson City Hall has also been opened for those missing family members.
According to CBS-affiliate KOLR, a candlelight vigil has been scheduled for 9 p.m. on Friday at Brookside Church. The church is at 2193 State Highway F in Branson. Everyone is welcome, according to the report.
A GoFundMe has also been established by the local chamber of commerce.
Divers representing various agencies are on scene to assist with the investigation and recovery. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be at the scene on Friday to investigate. The Missouri State Highway Patrol plans to recover the boat, which is under 80 feet of water, later on Friday.
“This is a tragedy that never should have happened," U.S. Senator Roy Blunt said. "I am closely monitoring the investigation to determine how the Coast Guard and the operator responded to previous NTSB recommendations. Based on the findings of the investigation and any new recommendations, I stand ready to pursue whatever action is necessary to keep this from happening again.”National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Linderberg said a top wind speed of 63 mph was measured around 7 p.m. Thursday at Branson Airport. The winds were likely stronger over the lake, Linderberg said.
“There’s nothing to slow down winds in an open area,” he said.
Witnesses agree they had never seen the lake so rough. “Never seen it like quite this bad," one witness said. "Boats can’t get in. Boats can’t get out.”
"We did have a severe thunderstorm, not sure if that is the contributing factor. There is a lot of storm debris," Southern Stone County Fire Protection spokesman Eric Nielsen said.A spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment, the parent company of Ride the Ducks Branson, said the company is in contact with their employees at the scene, said.
Suzanne Smagala-Potts said the company recently acquired the vessel that was involved in the incident.
Statement: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident that occurred this evening at Ride The Ducks Branson. This incident has deeply affected all of us. We will continue to do all we can to assist the families who were involved and the authorities as they continue with the search and rescue.
The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority. We will provide updates as we have additional, confirmed information to share.”In a news conference, Rader said he does not know yet if the company who owns the boats checked the weather forecast before going out.
There were other boats on the lake that returned to dock safely.
Officials are saying it’s still too early in the investigation to pinpoint why the boat went down. They also said the boat did have life jackets on board but could not answer questions about whether or not those on the boat were wearing them.Mike Pedersen from Milwaukee, Wisconsin was on the much larger Branson Belle boat when this all happened. That boat did not overturn.
He was one of many people who came to the parking lot of the Ride the Ducks attraction to place flowers on the cars or those who have not returned.
He didn’t see the two duck boats struggling, but saw doors flying off his boat and then people in the water. An off-duty deputy doing security on the Branson Belle jumped off the boat. Other rescuers swam to the Duck Boat from the shore.
"Just a bunch of visitors just jumped to it and came down there," he said. "There were a couple of really brave guys."
"The Branson Belle crew, they jumped to it," he said. "They weren’t involved at all, but when the time came, they jumped to it. That’s a class-A crew."
Herschend Family Entertainment, which owns the Branson Belle, released the following statement on Friday afternoon: "All of us at Herschend Family Entertainment are heartbroken about the accident that happened last evening on Ride the Ducks. Our prayers are with the victims, their families and the team at Ripley Entertainment.
Our docks at the Branson Belle have served as a staging area, and we will continue to commit our support and resources to the first responders, divers, and team at Ripley Entertainment in the coming days."Duck boats, known for their ability to travel on land and in water, have been involved in other deadly incidents in the past. They include one in 2015 in Seattle in which five college students were killed when a boat collided with a bus, and one in 1999 that left 13 people dead after the boat sank near Hot Springs, AR.
More information: A history of fatal accidents involving duck boats
Family, friends, lawmakers, witnesses and more are sharing their stories, their love and their support after the tragedy. Many people are saying they are praying for the victims and they are thanking first responders.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson on Friday ordered all flags at all state government offices to be flown at half-staff.
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