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Missouri Safety Inspector Says He Warned Duck Boat Company About Design Flaws A Year Ago

SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter

A safety inspector said he warned the company operating the duck boat that capsized, killing 17 people, its boats had a major design flaw in August 2017.

The boat was raised from the bottom of Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, on Monday morning. It ended up more than 80 feet below the water’s surface.

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Steve Paul, who runs St. Louis-based inspection company Test Drive Technologies, said that he made a written report about the danger the boats posed in cases of serious weather, reported CBS. The duck boat on Table Rock Lake near Branson capsized because of a storm with high-powered winds on Thursday night.

The duck boats Paul looked at were designed to release motor exhaust in front of the boat and below the surface of the water, he said. But in rough conditions, water could flood the exhaust system and then the motor. When that happened, the motor would stop running, which would cut off power for the boat’s pump for draining water from its hull.

Ripley Entertainment, the Florida company in charge of the duck boat operator, hired Paul to examine 24 duck boats before it bought the Missouri duck boat company, reported Fox News. (RELATED: Missouri Accident Is Not The First Time That A Duck Boat Ride Has Turned Fatal)

Paul has not shared a copy of the report he wrote, but he told The Associated Press that he is “sure” it will be subpoenaed at some point. It is unknown whether the boat that sank on Thursday was one of the boats Paul inspected in 2017.

“A source with knowledge of the report but not authorized to speak publicly about it strongly pushed back on Paul’s claims he warned the company that the boats were unsafe,” reported Fox News.

The capsized boat had passed inspection in February, the U.S. Coast Guard said according to Fox News. It was originally constructed in 1944 but had updated parts, Paul said.

Investigators are also asking why the boat was out on Table Rock Lake when eight hours earlier the National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the area, reported Fox News.

“It got really choppy and big swells of water started coming into the boat,” survivor Tia Coleman told ABC 7. “I said, ‘Jesus just keep me, just keep me so I can get to my children, keep me Lord.’ And I can swim, and I was swimming as fast as I could, and I could not reach the life jackets. I swam over to the boat and I was holding on but my legs and arms were so heavy from trying.”

She lost her husband and three children, who were aged 9, 7 and 1. The victims of the accident ranged in age from 1 to 76.

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