Local duck boat company responds to Branson tragedy
At least 17 people are dead and several others are still missing after a duck boat went down in Branson, Missouri.
Divers have recovered some of the missing passengers but the search continues for others.
Channel 3 reached out to a local boat tour company to see how owners handle tours during severe weather.
Duck boats are a popular tourist attraction, but not all of them are the same.
The Chattanooga Ducks offers guided tours on the Tennessee River.
Alex Moyers, owner of the Chattanooga Ducks, said they don't operate when there's severe weather or when there's the chance for it.
If there's a pop up thunderstorm, the owner said captains seek shelter under one of the bridges on the Tennessee River.
"It's terrible. Accidents will happen and when this kind of thing happens, I feel bad for the people who were involved in it," Alex Moyers, the owner of Chattanooga Ducks said.
Moyers said accidents like that affect every duck boat company including his. He's aware of what happened nearly 600 miles away. That's why he's talked about the Missouri accident with his employees and any customers who ask about it.
In the 21 years the business has been open, Moyers said they've never experienced anything like that.
"We're very lucky that we're in Chattanooga because we're on a very protected waterway. The Tennessee River is not wide open. It doesn't have a lot of fetch for the wind to build up or the waves to build up," Moyers said.
The 14,000 lbs duck boat was packed with people in downtown Chattanooga on Friday. During the summer, they make as many as 22 trips per day.
John Hochstedt is in Chattanooga visiting his grandchildren from Shreveport, Louisiana. He saw video Thursday night of what happened to a duck boat in Branson, Missouri.
"There's a little flutter and you go 'oh my gosh,' I've got kids and grandkids. Like I say, it's such an unusual thing," Hochstedt said.
In Missouri, the boat involved in the accident was operating on an open lake.
Moyers' team uses original military boats that were designed for the D-Day invasion. Their boats can seat 25.
Other companies have boats that are built solely for tours and can have more passengers.
"You can't take contingencies for every single freak accident that happens, but we're pretty confident," Hochstedt said.
Moyers said his boats are never more than 50 yards from shore or 100 yards from any bridge. He says they’re regulated by the US Coast Guard and all of the captains are trained and licensed Masters.
The company’s policy is to cancel trips that might be in jeopardy due to weather and if there’s a pop-up thunderstorm, captains seek shelter under one of the bridges.