The Lesson We Should All Take From the Duck Boat Tragedy

Seventeen people drowned amidst the 65 mph winds that stirred up Table Rock Lake two weeks ago. Despite the stormy weather, thirty-one people embarked on a ‘Ride the Ducks’ excursion (a popular tourist attraction in Branson, Missouri), and only fourteen stepped back onto dry land. Tragically, nine of the deaths were all members of one family.

Duck boats are ‘amphibious’ vehicles driven on dry land directly into the water, at which point they function as an ordinary boat. The passengers are also given duck calls to use whenever they see another Duck passing by, making it appear as if the Ducks are calling to one another.

What began as a fun, relaxing outing quickly turned to disaster- almost immediately the turbulent conditions caused the boat to capsize. The first responders include the crew of another boat, marina workers, an off-duty police officer, and an ER nurse who was in the area on vacation and helped to treat the survivors. Eye-witnesses attest to the immediacy with which the responders rushed to help, and even then, less than half the passengers survived.

Unfortunately, it oftentimes takes a tragedy to teach a lesson, and this tragedy screams one of the most important lessons of all: When in a crisis, always trust your own judgement.

We remind you of this due to the one fact that could’ve drastically changed the outcome of that horrific day: The captain of the boat told his passengers not to grab their lifejackets. Even in the midst of the storm and crashing waves, his only instruction was for them to stay seated, telling them “not to worry” and that they “wouldn’t need them [life jackets]”.

The tragedy is that they listened.

When the world is going sideways and your only goal is survival, you can’t always rely on the advice of other people. There are three key points to make on this topic:

Protect Your Kids/Loved Ones

Equip anyone you’re responsible for with whatever safety methods you feel are necessary. It doesn’t matter if people make fun or tell you you’re ‘being excessive’. There’s no telling how many people could have been saved had they been provided with the appropriate equipment.

Check the Weather

Always check the weather ahead of time, multiple times, before you do any water-related activity (this goes for any kind of outdoor activity where there’s a risk of inclement weather). Don’t trust that someone else has done it, and don’t trust when someone else says that “it’ll be fine”. Which brings us to our final point…

Trust Your Own Judgement

This can’t be stressed enough. The more serious the situation, the more important it is that you look to yourself and not other people, because the odds are that they’re looking out for themselves, not for you. If your gut is screaming at you, listen to it. You’ll be better off.

All that being said, let something good come from this heartbreaking loss; take this opportunity to educate yourself on emergency protocol. Ensure that you and your loved ones are prepared properly (not just the way the people in charge instruct), never walk into any situation blindly, and always trust your gut. If you follow all these steps, you can’t go wrong.

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Emma C

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