Investigation into fatal Missouri duck boat sinking could take a year to complete, officials say

The National Transportation Board said it could take a year for its federal investigation to provide concrete answers on what caused a tourist-packed duck boat to sink in a Missouri lake.

Two crew members and 29 passengers were aboard the “Ride the Ducks” sightseeing vessel when in capsized on Table Rock Lake in Branson Thursday evening. Seventeen people — nine of them from the same family — were killed when the boat plunged 80 feet to the bottom of the lake. Those who died range in age from 1 year to 70 years old.

While a severe thunderstorm tore through the Branson area around the same time the duck boat sank, it’s still unclear as to what exactly caused the re-purposed World War II craft to take on water.

RELATED: Tourist 'duck boat' capsizes in Missouri

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Tourist 'duck boat' capsizes in Missouri
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Tourist 'duck boat' capsizes in Missouri
The buck boat is hauled out of the water on Monday, July 23, 2018, at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo. (J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)
During a press conference Monday, July 30, 2018 in Kansas City, attorney Andrew Duffy, middle, speaks about the lawsuit being filed on behalf of the family who lost nine members during the duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake. (Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
Rescue personnel are seen after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS
Duck boat accident survivor Tia Coleman speaks to the media during a news conference at Cox Medical Center Branson Saturday, July 21, 2018 in Branson, Mo. Coleman lost 9 family members in the accident Thursday on Table Rock Lake which left a total of 17 people dead. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Flowers left by mourners rest on the ticket counter at the closed Ride the Ducks attraction Saturday, July 21, 2018 in Branson, Mo. One of the company's duck boats capsized Thursday night resulting in 17 deaths on Table Rock Lake. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Rescue personnel work after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS
Mourners gather in the parking lot of the Ride the Ducks offices in Branson, Mo., during a candle light vigil on Friday, July 20, 2018 for the victims of the Branson duck boat tragedy at Table Rock Lake. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
A duck boat is seen at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, U.S., July 19, 2018 in this picture grab obtained from social media video. Ron Folsom/via REUTERS
FILE - In this July 21, 2018 file photo, a small memorial for the victims of Thursday's duck boat accident overlooks Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo. The company that owns the Ride the Ducks operation in Branson is asking a judge to dismiss some of the lawsuits filed after one of its boats sank on the Missouri lake, killing 17 people. The Kansas City Star reports Ripley Entertainment said in motions filed Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, that the boat's sinking July 19 on Table Rock Lake was "an unforeseeable and unintentional occurrence." (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A family of mourners stop to place a flower on a World War II DUKW boat used by Ride The Ducks tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A child places a candle down during a evening candlelight prayer vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Guest arrive for the showing of Glenn Coleman, Reece Coleman, Evan Coleman and Arya Coleman, Friday, July 27, 2018, in Indianapolis. Nine members of the Coleman family were killed after a duck boat capsized and sank during a storm in Branson, Mo. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A family of mourners pause for a moment of prayer at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A Ride The Ducks World War II DUKW boat is seen at Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Vehicles of the victims of Thursday's Branson Duck Boat accident have been turned into a memorial on the parking lot for Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday.(Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Cards and flowers are seen on the vehicle of one of the victims of the Ride The Ducks Accident at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Members of the Coleman family comfort each other at a casket during the showing for Horace Coleman, Belinda Coleman, Irvin Coleman, Angela Coleman and Maxwell Coleman Ly, Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Indianapolis. Nine members of the Coleman family were killed in a duck boat accident at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A vehicle of one of the victims of Thursday's Branson Duck Boat accident has been turned into a memorial on the parking lot for Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: The fleet of the World War II DUKW boats are seen at Ride the Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday.(Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A family of mourners stop to place a flower on a World War II DUKW boat used by Ride The Ducks tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A child places a candle down during a evening candlelight prayer vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A vehicle of one of the Ride The Ducks accident victims is seen as it has become a memorial on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
During a press conference Monday, July 30, 2018 in Kansas City, attorney Robert Mongeluzzi speaks about the lawsuit being filed on behalf of the family who lost nine members during the duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake. (Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A family places flowers on vehicles of the victims of the Ride The Ducks accident on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A group of mourners pause for a moment of prayer at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
An attendee during a memorial for victims of the Branson duck boat sinking on Table Rock Lake holds a program listing the names of the victims on Sunday July 22, 2018 at the Williams Memorial Chapel on the campus of the College of the Ozarks near Branson, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A family places flowers on vehicles of the victims of the Ride The Ducks accident on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Boaters are seen on Table Rock Lake on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Table Rock Lake was the sight of a Ride The Ducks Tours Duck Boat capsizing accident on July 19th that killed over 10 people. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Lisa Berry wipes a tear during a news conference regarding the July 19 duck boat accident, Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Indianapolis. A second lawsuit has been filed by members of her family who lost nine relatives when the boat sank near Branson, Mo., killing 17 people. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A group of mourners pause for a moment of prayer and remembrance of the victims of the Ride The Ducks accident at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Worshippers gather during a evening candlelight prayer vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A Ride The Ducks World War II DUKW boat is seen at Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A group of mourners pause for a moment of prayer and remembrance of the victims of the Ride The Ducks accident at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A Ride The Ducks World War II DUKW boat is seen at Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Worshippers gather during a evening candlelight prayer vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A Ride The Ducks World War II DUKW boat is seen at Ride The Ducks on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Mourners gather in the parking lot of the Ride the Ducks offices in Branson, Mo., during a candle light vigil on Friday, July 20, 2018 for the victims of the Branson duck boat tragedy at Table Rock Lake. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: An overall of Table Rock Lake is seen on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Table Rock Lake was the sight of a Ride The Ducks Tours Duck Boat capsizing accident on July 19th that killed over 10 people. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
On Friday, July 20, 2018, the Branson Belle tour boat is docked on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo., where an amphibious vehicle capsized on Thursday, July 19, 2018, due to high winds. Seventeen people died in the mishap. People on the Branson Belle, which had not left the dock, assisted in rescuing some of the survivors. (Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: A young girl plays with a toy candle during a evening candlelight vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Cards and flowers are seen on the vehicle of a victim of the Ride The Ducks Accident at Ride The Ducks Tours on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners stopped by the location to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake in a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
BRANSON, MO - JULY 20: Worshippers gather during a evening candlelight prayer vigil at Life Christian Center Church on July 20, 2018 in Branson, Missouri. Hundreds of Branson and surrounding areas are gathering to pay their respects to the victims after a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm on Thursday. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
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“We will do an analysis of the fact and approximately one year later — one year from now — we should have a probably cause and a report for the general public,” Earl Weener wtih the NTSB told CNN. “We can expect to have a preliminary factual report in a couple of weeks to a month.”

Branson and the surrounding area was placed under a severe thunderstorm watch shortly after 6:30 p.m. local time, a little more than 40 minutes before the first 911 calls started rolling in. First responders rushed to the lake, launching a hunt for survivors and victims that wore into the night.

Earlier in the day, officials implemented a severe thunderstorm watch, providing ample time to prepare for the impending weather.

Jim Pattison Jr., the head of the tour company involved in the deadly sinking at a Missouri lake said the duck boat “shouldn’t have been in the water” when it capsized Thursday night, adding the weather appeared calm when the fatal tour kicked off.

But the waters quickly became choppy and the winds picked up, at one point reaching speeds of 65 mph.

The National Transportation Safety Board previously sounded that alarm on the amphibious crafts in 1999, when the Miss Majestic duck boat sunk to the bottom of Lake Hamilton in Arkansas, killing 13 of the 21 passengers on board.

“Contributing to the high loss of life was a continuous canopy roof that entrapped passengers within the sinking vehicle,” the NTSB investigation concluded at the time. It continued on to express concerns that the boats were prone to flooding and “the vulnerability of sinking,” with officials recommending to outfit the crafts with watertight bulkheads and install flotation materials.

The six-wheeled vehicles were designed to land WWII soldiers from sea to soil, though dozens of them remain in operation across the country to shuttle tourists to popular locations by both land and water.

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