Owner of boat that sank, killing 17, settles final lawsuit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The owner of a tourist duck boat that sank in Table Rock Lake, killing 17 people, has settled its final pending lawsuit for an undisclosed amount.

Thirty-one lawsuits have been filed against Ripley Entertainment since the former World War II amphibious vehicle sank in July 2018 at the lake near Branson. A joint motion for approval of a confidential settlement was filed Thursday in the final pending suit, which was filed by Joseph and William Strecker.

Their 68-year-old mother, Rosemarie Hamann, of the St. Louis suburb of Affton, had gone to the popular tourist town of Branson to celebrate her birthday with 69-year-old William Asher. The couple was killed when the boat went down, after it entered the lake despite severe weather warnings.

Attorney Kevin Roberts, who represents the brothers, didn’t immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.

Ripley spokeswoman Suzanne Smagala-Potts said in a statement Friday that the company has been committed to working with families since the boat sank.

“While we know lives lost cannot be replaced, we have actively pursued mediated settlements and all claims against Branson Ride The Ducks have now been resolved,” Smagala-Potts said. “Out of respect for the privacy of the families, we will not discuss the details of any settlement.”

The company suspended operation of the boats after the sinking. Three of its employees face federal charges, including the captain. He is accused of not properly assessing the weather and failing to tell passengers to don flotation devices as conditions worsened. Two managers are accused in an indictment of not communicating the growing intensity of the storm, including that wind gusts of 70 mph were forecast.

Previously settled lawsuits include many stemming from the deaths of nine members of an Indiana family. Other victims were from Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas. Fourteen people survived the sinking.

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