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Federal law introduced to increase duck boat safety after 2018 tragedy

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Posted at 4:43 PM, Jan 28, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two federal lawmakers have reintroduced a bill to improve the safety of duck boats after 17 people, including nine from Indianapolis, were killed when one sank in a Missouri lake in 2018.

Missouri Republican senators Josh Hawley and Roy Blunt filed legislation that would authorize National Transportation Safety Board recommendations on duck boats, such as requiring life jackets and making sure all duck boats are more buoyant.

The bill would also require canopies that make it easier for passengers to escape in case of an emergency.

Indianapolis woman Tia Coleman and her then-13-year-old nephew, Donovan, were the only members of her family who survived. The boat had entered the lake despite severe weather warnings. The National Weather Service said winds were blowing as hard as 65 mph when the boat capsized.

Hawley first introduced the legislation in 2019. It passed the U.S. Senate unanimously but wasn’t heard by the House before the end of the 116th Congress, so it died.

Hawley and Blunt have reintroduced it this week.

"In 2018, 17 people lost their lives in a preventable tragedy on Table Rock Lake,” he said. “The best way we can honor the lives lost there and those lost in the accidents that preceded it is to do our part in protecting safety on the water and passing this common-sense legislation. This bill passed the Senate unanimously last year, and I am committed to building on that progress and seeing it become law."