BRANSON, Mo. – A man who said he inspected the Branson duck boats indicated they would not pass federal regulations. However, a government loophole may have allowed the problem to continue.
Private inspector Steven Paul of Test Drive Technologies inspects vehicles for both businesses and consumers. Paul said the exhaust on the front of the duck boats should have been moved, according to Department of Transportation regulations.
Video of the boat sinking shows that may have added to the problem. You could see waves crashing over the bow of the Branson duck boat before it sank.
“My main concern is the exhaust in the front. If the exhaust takes on water, then the engine is going to seize up,” he said.
Paul explained that you don't want to lose power in a storm.
“You can’t move the boat. The only thing you can do is steer it with a rudder,” he said. “You have no propulsion and you’re not going to have any bilge, you’re not going to have the pump inside the hull to pump water out of the boat. It’s a dead stick, dead in the water.”
Paul traveled to Branson to inspect 24 duck boats last August. He noted the exhaust on the boats didn’t pass federal regulations.
“My inspection was based off DOT standards, which can’t have any exhaust forward of the passenger compartment,” Paul said. “The exhaust either needed to be higher than the passengers or rear of the passengers.”
A DOT spokesman said the agency had no jurisdiction over the amphibious vehicles, but rather the US Coast Guard has oversight. Fox 2 News contacted the Coast Guard for its standards and inspection reports and a spokesman said they’re looking into it.
“Both agencies needed to be in contact with the company, setting a standard to say they need to meet these standards or the ships can’t be on the road or they can’t be on the water,” Paul said.
Paul said it’s unclear what the federal agencies did since his job was to inspect for the private parties as part of a sale. He’s also not sure if the private companies took any action on their own and the current parent company has not answered whether they made any corrections.