Attorney for duck boat tragedy survivor, Tia Coleman, says she's focused on change

Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 10:27 PM CDT
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Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board highlighted warnings that were ignored and rules that were not in place despite past recommendations as reasons for the Duck Boat tragedy.

The deadly accident killed 17 people on Table Rock Lake, nearly 2 years ago, including nine members of Tia Coleman's family.

Coleman's attorney, Robert Mongeluzzi, said that he hopes the recommendations handed down by the NTSB will finally be adopted by the Coast Guard.

"The NTSB said in no uncertain terms that the Coast Guard's actions have been ineffective," he said.

The recommendations were nearly the same as those issued following the investigation of another duck boat accident, the sinking of the Miss Majestic in Lake Hamilton in Arkansas nearly 20 years ago.

"It is rare for one federal agency to really go after another. I was struck by how strongly the NTSB indicated that the Coast Guard just had not done the job they were supposed to do which is protecting passengers and making safety first," said Mongeluzzi.

The NTSB also said the Coast Guard should've ordered duck boats to add more safety measures and ban the canopies and side windows that were already proven to prevent escape.

Mongeluzzi said, "It's a shame that it took a tragedy like this to convince people, strongly convince, to let them know that these things are death traps."

He said that survivor Tia Coleman has plans to help make sure the recommendations are ordered.

"I think that Tia's focus is going to be on trying to have a meeting with the Coast Guard so that they can hear what she has to say. It is one thing to hear it in a vacuum. It is another to meet with the people who this has really impacted and whose lives have been devastated," he said.

NTSB investigators also said that Ride the Ducks had plenty of warning about the severe weather but chose to launch their boats anyway.

The boat's captain, Kenneth McKee, is facing 17 counts of misconduct and negligence, one for each person who died. His attorneys have filed motions to dismiss the case against him.

As of right now, he's scheduled to go to trial this October.