Video recordings recovered from the tourist duck boat that sank July 19 in Missouri killing 17 show the operators considered the weather before taking 29 passengers on Table Rock Lake, but were beset within a few minutes by rising winds and waves.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a partial description of what investigators have reviewed from an SD card and hard drive from the Stretch Duck 7 operated by Ride the Ducks Branson. The roughly 43-minute recording shows the captain and driver of the 31’x8’ amphibious boat being told by a third person to take the group on the water portion of the 70-minute tour first.

As the passengers boarded, the captain made a verbal reference to looking at weather radar, according to the narrative released by NTSB. Shortly after 6:33 p.m. the tour departed, and arrived at a boat ramp on the lake around 6:50 p.m.

The captain gave a safety briefing, and demonstrated the use of life jackets before taking the helm and entering calm water on the lake just after 6:55 p.m.

Over the next few minutes the captain allowed four different children to take turns in the driver’s seat as he assisted. At 7 p.m. the wind began rising and whitecaps appeared, and the driver began lowering side curtains.

The captain made a comment about the storm, and two minutes later made a call on his handheld VHF radio that was unintelligible to investigators.

Just after 7:04 the bilge alarm activated, and a minute later the captain reached down and the alarm stopped sounding. Seconds later the captain made another VHF call that investigators cannot yet understand, and at 7:07 p.m. the bilge alarm again sounded, as water could be seen sloshing into the passenger compartment. The video ends a minute later with the boat still on the surface.

The Stretch Duck 7 swamped as the captain attempted to return to the ramp, and people on the showboat Branson Queen docked nearby helped survivors, some of them clinging to the vessel sternwheel.

On Monday the Missouri attorney general’s office confirmed to the Kansas City Star that it has opened a criminal investigation into the sinking. Lawyers for an Indiana family, who lost nine relatives aged 1 to 70 in the disaster, announced they are filing a lawsuit seeking $100 million in damages from Ride the Ducks Branson, its Florida-based parent corporation Ripley Entertainment, and other entities.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.