PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tammy Hardgrave-Ricciardi grew up on the lake in Branson, Missouri, where 17 people died Thursday night after a duck boat capsized.
“This was a tragedy and this cannot happen again,” she said. “I think after the severity of this tragedy, I don’t think I would ever go on another one.”
Just last week, she was on vacation there and snapped a photo of her young son driving a duck boat on Table Rock Lake.
She says she’s had safety concerns about the vessels for years and now brings her own life jackets from home.
“I required my own children to have their own personal life jacket. If you’re on the duck, you’re in a life jacket. No questions asked.”
The company, Ride the Ducks, provides life vests but Missouri law does not mandate riders to wear them.
Hardgrave-Ricciardi says those in Missouri know how quickly conditions can change.
“You’ll hear the storm warning go off, then it will get dark, it will get windy, and it will get scary,” she said.
It’s not the first the this company’s duck boats have been involved in fatal accidents.
Ride the Ducks ceased operations in Philadelphia in 2016, citing financial reasons, after two deadly incidents.
In May 2015, a duck boat struck a woman walking in Center City.
CBS3 helicopter pilot Ray Oechslin remembers rescue efforts in July 2010 when a barge hit a duck boat on the Delaware River, killing two Hungarian students.
He was flying over the river when he saw people in the water and flagged down the nearby Camden ferry to help save them.
“We thought we were able to save everybody but we couldn’t,” Oechslin said.
Now, some are questioning the future of duck boat tours. The company itself says it will be closed for business while the investigation into the Missouri incident continues.
“All these people were trying to do was take a break from life and make memories with their children. There’s no reason why it should’ve had to end this tragically,” Hardgrave-Ricciardi said.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.