Divers search site of Branson Duck Boat Tragedy for belongings to return to families

Published: Oct. 18, 2020 at 8:50 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2020 at 9:14 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - A pair of scuba divers came to Branson on Sunday to search the site where a Ride the Ducks boat capsized on Table Rock Lake during a storm in 2018, sinking and killing 17 people on board.

Jared Leisek and Sam Ginn come from Washington and Oregon. The duo have been diving for more than a decade, making stops all across the country.

The two also have a YouTube channel, “Adventures With Purpose,” where they share videos from their various recovery expeditions all across the states. Oftentimes, viewers provide them with tips.

“Some of our viewers had reached out, actually some of them that were the fire first-responders that were here,” Jared Leisek said. "They said [the Duck Boat] had actually been recovered. However, none of the personal artifacts had. "

Leisek and Ginn then made their way to Branson for their next effort.

“They really asked us to come to town, see if we would dive on site, find some of those personal artifacts and return them to their lost loved ones,” Leisek said.

The two were out on Table Rock Lake working together for a couple hours. They said they made it more than 80 feet deep at a few points.

Emergency response crews recovered the boat itself shortly after the incident in 2018. On Sunday, the divers hoped their dive would help console the entire Ozarks community.

“Closure is used quite a lot, and it’s actually the inappropriate term that I’ve learned," Leisek said. "I say the ability to connect with lost loved ones. The ability to find resolution. Some of the families do refer to it as closure, so we do accept that as well.”

The team said many of their efforts are easy and fun, while others can be quite difficult. Leisek said their diving expeditions can sometimes take a mental and physical toll.

“When we come into this and help families it really is emotional,” he said.

Some of their previous missions have involved rescuing bodies from vehicles that have been submerged underwater. They have helped in a number of cases across the country. Leisek said their top priority is always to help console family.

They only found a jacket and a few items of trash on their dive. They have not yet confirmed whether it belonged to a person on board.

“Even when we don’t find something, it gives us peace of mind and we’re able to check off that location," Sam Ginn said. “You know, give it a nice search and make sure nothing is there.”

Leisek and Ginn say these dives are about leaving nothing behind and nothing forgotten, they said.

”I hope being here refreshes this accident for the Branson community," Ginn said. “Especially the scuba divers. You know, a call to all divers to come out and check this area and help find lost items, lost belongings and help return them to family members.”

Both Leisek and Ginn said they also encourage people to reach out to them on YouTube, Facebook or Leisek’s website if they ever have any suggestions or are need of locating a missing person.

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