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The Latest: Missouri opens criminal probe into boat incident


The Latest on lawsuits filed over the sinking of tourist boat in Branson (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

The Missouri attorney general’s office says it has opened a criminal investigation into the circumstances of the tourist boat that sank on a Missouri lake, killing 17 people.

Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office confirmed Monday that it has an open investigation under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act into the July 19 duck boat incident at Table Rock Lake.

His spokeswoman, Mary Compton, said in an email that they are working with investigators to determine the facts and whether any criminal charges are appropriate.

The statement does not name any individuals or companies.

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12:35 p.m.

Three daughters of a couple who died when a tourist boat sank on a Missouri lake have filed a lawsuit against the companies involved in its operation and two crew members.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed Monday in Taney County Circuit Court by Missouri residents Michelle Chaffer, Christina Taylor and Rebekah Wittington, seeking more than $125,000 in damages. Their parents, William and Janice Bright, of Higginsville, Missouri, were on the duck boat that sank July 19 on Table Rock Lake.

The lawsuit names Ride the Ducks International, Ripley Entertainment Inc. and operators Kenneth McKee and Robert Williams as defendants. Williams died in the accident.

It was filed a day after attorneys filed a federal lawsuit for two members of an Indiana family who had nine relatives die.

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12 p.m.

An attorney says an Indiana family that lost nine members when a tourist boat sank on a Missouri lake wants to ensure that duck boats are banned so no one else suffers the same grief.

A federal lawsuit filed Sunday seeks $100 million in damages on behalf of two members of the Coleman family who died July 19 at Table Rock Lake when the Ride the Ducks boat sank, killing 17 people.

Robert Mongeluzzi, a Philadelphia-based attorney, said Monday the family’s priorities are to find out what happened and to make sure “no one ever dies again inside a death trap duck boat.”

Mongeluzzi’s law firm won a $17 million settlement after two Hungarian students drowned in a duck boat ride in Philadelphia in 2010.

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10 a.m.

Ripley Entertainment, the owner of Ride the Ducks of Branson, says it remains “deeply saddened” that one of its boats sank in Missouri, killing 17 people.

A federal lawsuit was filed Sunday accusing Ripley and operators of the tourist ride of putting profits ahead of passenger safety and ignoring safety warnings when the boat was put on Table Rock Lake in Branson July 19. Seventeen of the 31 people on board died.

Ripley spokeswoman Suzanne Smagala said in a statement Monday that the company would not comment further because a National Transportation Safety Board investigation is continuing and no conclusions have been reached.

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9:30 p.m.

The owners and operators of a tourist boat that sank this month in Missouri, killing 17 people, put profits over people’s safety when they decided to put the Ride the Ducks boat on a lake despite design problems and warnings of severe weather, a lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit filed Sunday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City seeks $100 million in damages on behalf of two of nine members of an Indiana family who died when the tourist boat sank July 19 at Table Rock Lake near Branson. Others killed were from Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri.

“This tragedy was the predictable and predicted result of decades of unacceptable, greed-driven, and willful ignorance of safety by the Duck Boat industry in the face of specific and repeated warnings that their Duck Boats are death traps for passengers and pose grave danger to the public on water and on land,” the lawsuit alleges.

Ripley Entertainment Inc., Ride the Ducks International, Ride the Ducks of Branson, the Herschend Family Entertainment Corp., and Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing are named in the lawsuit, which was filed by a team led by a Philadelphia-based legal firm that has litigated previous lawsuits involving duck boats.

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For the AP’s complete story: https://bit.ly/2uYOwDe



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