Missouri Duck Boat Company Speaks Out After Tour Boat Capsizes, Killing 17

Ride the Ducks in Branson, Missouri, is speaking out after one of their tour boats capsized on Thursday, killing 17 passengers, including children.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident that occurred at Ride The Ducks Branson,” the statement read on Facebook. “This incident has deeply affected all of us. Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking.

“We will continue to do all we can to assist the families who were involved. The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority.”

The company said they would “be closed for business while we support the investigation, and to allow time to grieve for the families and the community.”

“Thank you for your support, and we ask that your thoughts and prayers be with the families during this time,” the statement concluded.

Seventeen people have died and a number of passengers are injured after the duck boat capsized during a thunderstorm that ravaged Table Rock Lake in Missouri on Thursday.

Thirty-one people were on a Ride the Ducks boat in the Ozarks when strong winds caused it to capsize, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said in a press conference broadcast by KY3.

Rader said at least seven people were transported to the hospital with injuries and authorities found 17 bodies during the rescue and recovery mission that continued into Friday.

Rader said he believed the boat turned over and sunk due to the stormy weather at about 8 p.m. ET with the thunderstorm winds as high as 60 mph, according to NBC News. The duck boat remains at the bottom of the lake.

In a video captured and shared on Facebook by Jeanie Phillips-Hudson Carr, two duck boats are seen struggling to reach land while a thunderstorm raged on.

Toward the end of the video, the second boat is seen slowly turning on its side and sinking into the water as shocked bystanders watch from the Branson Belle, a showboat that helped rescue people, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

Ride the Duck in Branson, Missouri, was bought last year by Ripley Entertainment, the company that owns Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Suzanne Smagala-Potts, a spokeswoman for the company tells PEOPLE they are aware of the situation.

“Number one, our priority is the families and employees, and that’s what we’re focusing on. We are in contact with authorities but we do not have enough information at this time to confirm anything,” Smagala-Potts says.

According to the company’s website, Ride the Ducks is a guided amphibious tour for both land and water that lasts 70 minutes.

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