Tragic Duck Boat Accident in Branson

We don’t really know yet for sure what happened or why so many people lost their lives in what should have been a fun outing in Branson, Missouri. There will now be investigations and recriminations.

It will take time to sift through the evidence and it is most likely that by the time anyone does figure it all out, our attention will have turned somewhere else.

So, yes this may be a little premature, but this is another example of why whistleblowers should be taken seriously before bad things happen.

It is another example of why they should be protected and even provided with incentives to come forward, after all there is no limit of incentives for people to make money by avoiding painful truths. Yes, unpopular as it may be, it is also an example of why we need regulations when it comes to safety and more importantly, strict enforcement of those regulations.

We hear a lot about how regulations choke off business, but we rarely hear much about how regulations could save lives, until its too late.

Check out the most recent reports on the tragic events in Branson. CBS reports that more than a year ago an investigator pointed to design flaws. The history of the modern Duck Boat is not good and there are incidents going back to 1999 showing it may be unsafe in bad weather. As a boat and a car at the same time, it is hard to put in a regulatory scheme, but allegedly they are also not stable in rough water.

The rest of the CBS report reads like a continual battle between being able to operate freely to make money and being held to account over safety concerns. Keep the canopy so you can keep customer dry in rain, even after that inspector said was a hazard.

Read the article and remember we are talking about a joyride company here. These boats are deployed only for entertainment. The duck boat simply did not have to be on the water except to make money. No there is nothing wrong with making money. We will see whether anyone determines if this was just an act of God later.

But right now this report makes it it looks a lot more like warnings of those who knew better about the design of the boat and when it should operate went unheeded. If you want to put your faith in the hands only of business considerations, without anyone watching, sooner or later your Duck Boat may arrive. Corners will get cut and safety will be compromised in the name of extending operating hours to make a few more dollars.

For this reason, as for so many others, those who tell the truth, the kind of people that say wait a minute the water can go in the exhaust of this boat, the canopy can trap people, those people who stand up and say when things are not right, need our support more than ever. They need incentives to report to do what business people always say should be done, that is level the playing field. Telling the truth about safety needs to have just as strong an incentive as running the business.

So read this report with sorrow for the victims and if you think we don’t need strong supports for whistleblowers, think if it had been your family out just for a fun time in Branson.