Missouri duck boat accident leaves 17 dead, including children

iStock/Thinkstock(BRANSON, Mo.) -- A tourist duck boat capsized in a lake near Branson, Missouri, killing at least 17 people, including children, as severe thunderstorms struck the area Thursday night, the Missouri Highway Patrol said.

Seven others were injured when the boat plunged into Table Rock Lake, officials said.

"Our thoughts and prayers right now are with these family members," Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Friday morning, calling the accident a "tragedy."

A total of 29 passengers and two crew members were on board the amphibious craft when it plunged into 80 feet of water and landed upright on its wheels, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said.

It appeared there were life jackets on board, Rader said, but it was not yet clear how many people were wearing them.

Severe evening thunderstorms, including winds in excess of 60 mph, struck the area at the time. Eyewitness video showed the craft, which travels on land and water, taking on water as waves lashed at its sides.

Eyewitness video showed the craft, which travels on land and water, taking on water as waves lashed at its sides.

"The wind really picked up bad, and debris was flying everywhere,” Allison Lester, who was on a nearby boat, told Good Morning America on Friday. "The waters were rough.”

Lester's boyfriend, Trent Behr, added, "We actually heard the captain say the boat flipped or the boat was sinking.”

Behr saw a woman lying in the water where he ran down to help, he said.

"We eventually did pull her up onto the boat," Behr said. "She was unconscious. I was about ready to start CPR, and the EMT did show up at that time."

Suzanne Smagala-Potts of Ride the Ducks Branson, the company involved in the accident, said in a statement, "We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident."

"This incident has deeply affected all of us," Smagala-Potts said. "We will continue to do all we can to assist the families who were involved and the authorities as they continue with the search and rescue. The safety of our guests and employees is our No. 1 priority."

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