Deadly duck boat incident serves as reminder to lake-goers

Local News
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Emergency workers patrol an area Friday, July 20, 2018, near where a duck boat capsized the night before resulting in at least 13 deaths on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo. Workers were still searching for four people on the boat that were unaccounted for. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

WELDON, Ill. (WCIA) — Boaters in Central Illinois are taking precautions to stay safe at the lake.

After a duck boat capsized during a severe thunderstorm in Missouri, killing 17 people, lake-goers want others to be careful. They’re offering their own tips and advice.

They say a big part of lake safety is keeping an eye on the sky.

Boaters at Clinton Lake say they always check the weather before they go. They don’t want to be trapped out on the water in pouring rain and 60-mile-an-hour winds, and they want others to be safe as well.

“In Central Illinois here and it’s that way across the nation, but storms can pop up so quickly.”

The storm in Missouri which capsized a duck boat didn’t hit unexpectedly, but it can happen. Mary Price says it can happen often at Clinton Lake.

“When I’m talking about storms, I’m talking about 60-70 mile an hour winds, which is not uncommon here.”

This weekend, dozens of boaters came to the lake to enjoy the nice weather, like Chris Huse, of Normal. Huse says he stays weather-aware for any storm warnings and keeps a checklist of stuff to bring.

“I think a checklist is really important because, if you think you’re going to remember something, you’re going to forget it, and if it’s on a checklist and you make sure. It’s just like when you go to the grocery store, you get everything that’s on your list.”

It’s so he’s ready for the best case and worse case scenarios. Price agrees and says tragedy striking here isn’t unheard of.

“We’ve actually had a couple people killed on the lake because of getting caught in a storm. It’s just something that, when it happens it’s too late.”

The best way to avoid that is to prepare early.

“Something that every boater needs to think about before they go on the water.”

Price says your best option, if you do get caught up in a storm while you’re on the lake, is to try to make it to shore. He says that way, if you’re on the land, the boat may be damaged, but you’ll be safe.

Investigators are still looking into what happened in Missouri. NTSB investigators are on the scene where the duck boat capsized.

Video recorder boxes may contain critical information about what went wrong in the final minutes leading up to the deaths of 17 people. 

Missouri’s attorney general says he is considering filing charges, possibly for criminal negligence.

The victims include nine members of the same family and a couple celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. 

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