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Tales of death and despair in the Alaskan wilderness are nothing new. Arguably, the most infamous case is that of Christopher McCandless, the inspiration of the book and movie, Into the Wild. One similar case of adventure turned tragic – one that didn’t receive as much recognition – is that of Carl McCunn, who died at just 35-years-old while waiting for a plane that never would arrive.  In March of 1981, McCunn paid a bush pilot to fly him to a remote lake around 225 miles northeast of Fairbanks, near the Coleen River in the Arctic Circle. He brought along 500 roles of film and photography equipment to capture the natural beauty of the tundra while camping. He also brought along two guns and 1,400 pounds of provisions; mostly rice and beans. He camped in the solitude of the wilderness and kept a journal to document his adventures. Early on in McCunn’s trip, he threw away five boxes of shotgun shells, believing that he had bought along too many.



Image Above - Coleen River


McCunn planned on staying in the wilderness from March until early August. In one journal entry, he wrote that he believed that he had arranged a flight back to civilization in early August. As he eagerly awaited the plane, his supplies dwindled substantially. He thought back to the shotgun shells he disposed of months earlier: “Had five boxes and when I kept seeing them sitting there I felt rather silly having brought so many. (Felt like a warmonger.) So I threw all away… into the lake… but about a dozen… real bright,” he wrote. In an attempt to supplement his starchy diet, he attempted to catch fish with a net weighed with links of chain. He also ate rose hips, attempting to get the petals before the birds. McCunn’s concernment grew with the change of the season. As the temperature dropped and torrential rain fell from the skies, it soon dawned on him that nobody was returning to pick him up. “Come on, please…. don’t leave me hangin’ and frettin’ like this. I didn’t come out here for that,” read one journal entry.


Worried friends asked the Alaska State Trooper to check on McCunn as summer came to an end and McCunn still hadn’t returned home from his escapade. Trooper David Hamilton flew over McCunn’s camp and saw McCunn waving a red bag. He said he circled McCunn, who was waving in a “casual manner.” Believing this indicated that he wasn’t in danger, Hamilton flew away. McCunn wrote in his journal that he was elated when he saw the plane. However, this elation soon turned to frustration when McCunn looked at distress signals printed on the back of his hunting license and realised he had given the signal for “all okay, do not wait.”


It is essential anyone who ventures into the wilderness has remembered and revised there wilderness survival distress hand and body signals. Winter was fast approaching; the lake near McCunn’s tent froze over and snow now blanketed the land. By now, McCunn had run out of food and was salvaging partially eaten kills from hawks and other predators. In a desperate bid to stay alive, McCunn even ate tree bark. “Hands getting more frost bitten every day… fingertips and edges of hands numb and stinging,” read one distressing journal entry. McCunn soon started to think about suicide. In his journal, he wrote that he been praying to God to help him and that he didn’t want to commit suicide but knew that death was imminent. “Am burning the last of my emergency Coleman light and just fed the fire the last of my split wood. When the ashes cool, I’ll be cooling along with them,” read one journal entry.1 In another, he wrote that he had “chickened out once already,” and that “they say it doesn’t hurt…”


In November, McCunn considered attempting to walk to Fort Yukon which was approximately 75 miles away. Understandably, he rejected the idea. By now, he was suffering from frostbite and starvation. It’s safe to deduce he could barely walk one mile never mind 75. He wrote a letter to his father explaining how to develop his film if ever it was retrieved. “I’m frightened my end is near… If things get too miserable I’ve always got a bullet around. But think I’m too chicken for that. Besides, that may be the only sin I’ve never committed.”


The Yukon Quest 1,000-mile International Sled Dog Race, or simply Yukon Quest, is a sled dog race run every February between Fairbanks, Alaska, and Whitehorse, Yukon.  Because of the harsh winter conditions, difficult trail, and the limited support that competitors are allowed, it is considered the "most difficult sled dog race in the world", or even the "toughest race in the world"—"even tougher, more selective and less attention-seeking than the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.  The originator envisioned it as "a race so rugged that only purists would participate.

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(Aurora Borealis) The celestial curtains that bathe Alaska’s winter sky range from subtle green shimmers that will strike you as pretty to dramatic purple-red displays that might  make the hair stand up on your head. Generated when the charged solar wind slams into the earth’s magnetic field, the aurora forms a sort of planetary halo surrounding the magnetic poles. The physics of it is similar to what produces the glow inside an old-fashioned tube television. But the experience will stir your soul. While the aurora can be seen in the northern sky throughout Alaska, the Fairbanks area and north into the Yukon River Valley may be the state’s sweet spot for viewing. The aurora can literally be overhead.


These glowing columns appear to emanate from light sources when uncounted billions of hexagonal ice crystals suspend in the air, their flat faces horizontal to the ground, and reflect the light. Optical illusions similar to halos and sundogs, eerie light pillars can extend from the sun or moon through high clouds and seem to dominate the whole sky. But during Alaska’s frigid, fog-bound winter nights, these celestial shafts come to earth, rising from every streetlight, like a forest of colored beams.


Human generated light pillars are common throughout Alaska wherever people have erected artificial light systems. Probably easiest to see from a distance. Try looking toward a neighborhood or city block from a dark, elevated spot during an icy, foggy night with temps in teens or below. The low-hanging winter sun is another good bet.


Light pillars from artificial light are definitely a dark season phenomena in Alaska. Most common between November and February after sunset.


Fata Morgana

This complex and sometimes bizarre mirage erupts from the horizon, distorting distant features into blocky or inverted shapes that sometimes morph in real time. Mountain ranges form weird cityscapes or elongate into mushroom shapes. While common worldwide in deserts or at sea, this optical display has an affinity for Alaska geography and climate. It’s generated when light rays bend as they pass through a sharp inversion, often when frigid air hugs the ground with a mass of warm air on top. Scholars say it’s named after Arthurian sorceress Morgan Le Fey. Look for Fata Morgana wherever you have a vast, horizon-reaching fetch to scan—on the seashore, the edge of a tundra plain, a view from a high spot across a long valley. Best bet in Anchorage may be at Mile 4.2 of Arctic Valley Road. Pull over at the fifth switchback from the bottom where there’s an 80-mile view of the Tordrillo Range and Mount Spurr Volcano beyond the Anchorage skyline. During winter cold snaps, these distant, snowbound mountains seem to transform into a stunning range of mesas and pillars. When? In the Far North, Fata Morgana appears much more often during deep winter, when high pressure clears the skies and still air stratifies into layers of cold and warm. One of the delights of visiting Alaska between November and March.



Mountain summits will often glow with a magical orange-red light in the period just before sunrise and just after sunset. This subtle, otherworldly illumination appears opposite from the sun when the solar disc is actually just beneath the horizon. (True alpenglow is not caused by direct sunrise or sunset light.) The light gets refracted from below the horizon and scattered through the atmosphere by ice crystals. The phenomenon can also be seen in cloudbanks or across sky itself when no mountains are in view.

Of course, mountain peaks will also reflect sunrise or sunset in the moments before you experience direct sunlight or after it’s gone, especially if you are in a valley. And this glow can be just as beautiful (and reddish) as true alpenglow. It’s fun to watch the sun line descend the slope toward you, or climb to the summit and fade away.


Watch for alpenglow anywhere the mountains face a long fetch toward the rising or setting sun. The west-facing front of the Chugach Mountains—Anchorage’s stunning backdrop—often glows red during late winter afternoons after the sun has set beyond Cook Inlet. Denali in the Alaska Range sometimes seems illuminated from within. Turnagain Arm ridge tops southeast of Anchorage are another great place to catch the glow.


Alpenglow can appear any time of year. But Alaska’s cold, clear winter days seem to produce the best atmospheric conditions for alpenglow. Best bet might be to start watching for alpenglow after the winter sun sets in late afternoon.


The Alaska State Troopers, officially the Division of Alaska State Troopers (AST), is the state police agency of the U.S. state of Alaska, It is a division of the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) The Alaska State Troopers is a full-service law enforcement agency which handles both traffic and criminal law enforcement. The Alaska State Troopers is also involved in apprehending fugitives as part of the Alaska Fugitive Task Force, an inter-agency collaborative of Alaska police departments that cooperates with police agencies throughout the United States and less commonly with Interpol in apprehending wanted men and women. Unlike many lower-48 states, Alaska troopers are both state troopers and game/wildlife enforcement officers.


Because Alaska has no counties, therefore no county police or sheriffs, in its constitution, the troopers also handle civil papers and mental health custody orders and serve as police throughout mostly all of rural Alaska. Alaska does have boroughs, which have some similarities but with lesser powers of lower-48 U.S. counties, but only the North Slope Borough police truly functions similarly to a lower-48 county police agency and thus relieves AST of a need to be the primary police agency in this particular region. Alaska troopers are the most geographically extended peace officers aside from federal officers in the USA. They have little, if any local backup; within the entire State of Alaska, only about 1,300 full-time sworn law enforcement officers patrol a state 1/5th the size of the entire lower-48 and other than troopers and state park rangers, the local officers remain in their communities except in extreme emergencies. This includes the only metropolitan police agency in Alaska, the Anchorage Police Department with almost 500 officers.


All troopers who successfully complete their field training, will be provided a take home patrol vehicle for use during working hours. Troopers who are on SERT, K9 or other designated standby may drive their take home vehicle for personal use. The remaining officers are the over 300 Alaska troopers and smaller municipal agencies which have around 50 in towns like the state capital of Juneau or the second largest town in the state, Fairbanks. The remaining officers serve in small agencies with anywhere from one to ten officers on average. The DPS is headed by a Commissioner appointed by the Governor, This person is actually a civilian administrator, though historically a career law enforcement officer and administrator. The Commissioner, if a sworn officer upon being appointed as such, may be appointed a "Special Alaska State Trooper" to maintain police powers. The Alaska State Troopers (AST) and Alaska Wildlife Troopers (AWT) are headed by ranking officers with the rank of Colonel.


The mission of the Division of Alaska State Troopers is to preserve the peace, enforce the law, prevent and detect crime, and protect life and property. The Division is comprised of posts assigned to five geographic detachments that provide patrol, enforcement, and search and rescue to all areas of the state and a central headquarters. The Division's major components are: Alaska Bureau of Investigation investigates major crimes and enforces bootlegging and illegal drug distribution throughout Alaska; Judicial Services is responsible for prisoner transports and providing security for Alaska courts; and the Alaska Bureau of Highway Patrol keeps Alaska's highways safe by their presence on state roadways and through public education campaigns.


The Alaska State Troopers' eight core missions in meeting these responsibilities are:

Maintain public peace and order.
Enforce criminal laws and investigate violations of those laws.
Enforce traffic laws and regulations and investigate violations of those laws and regulations.
Conduct and manage search and rescue operations.
Support and assist other law enforcement and governmental agencies.
Investigate allegations of human abuse or neglect.
Respond to the concerns and inquiries of citizens.
Provide current and relevant training to law enforcement and criminal justice agencies.


RoboCop from 1987 also had a similar core mission responsibility similar in some respects to the Alaskan Troopers. (Don't Move Creep!)

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In February of 1982, Alaska state troopers found McCunn’s tent. Inside, they found his lifeless body; a suicide note was found alongside a driver’s license for identification. He had shot himself in the head in late November or early December. The note beside his body read “Dear God in heaven, please forgive me my weakness and sins. Please look over my family.” Rather than die a slow and agonizing death from starvation or frostbite, McCunn decided to end his life. In a coroner’s inquest, the pilot, Rory Cruikshank, was absolved of any responsibility after several witnesses testified that there were no specific arrangements made for McCunn to be picked up.


If you live in a high rise block and keep pets such as dogs and cats it is best that you ensure the windows are securely locked or unable to open fully just in case your pet falls out or escapes onto the balcony. In Buenos Aires in 1983, a dog fell from a 13th floor balcony which killed three people in quick succession as the pooch came smashing down to the ground at high speed. The cute dog was called Cachi and was a poodle breed, Unfortunately as the dog plummeted it hit an elderly 75 year old woman called Marta Espina on her head who was killed instantly by the dogs weight. Sadly the dog also perished from the fall and impact, Another woman close by was a witness to the terrible accident but also died on the spot when a large bus hit her while she stood in the middle of the street at the edge of a large crowd that had gathered in the commotion.


Image Above - From inside the bus on impact.

Image Above - Another woman is run over and killed by an out of control passenger bus.

Crowds quickly gather outside the high rise as they witness multiple deaths and a falling poodle.



To make matters even more bizarre an unidentifiable man who saw the dog falling and killing the woman and the other woman being run over by a bus suddenly has a massive cardiac arrest and dies as he is driven to hospital in an ambulance. The ambulance driver is very careful not to crash his vehicle as more fatalities would create a ridiculous situation.  It was not immediately clear why Cachi fell. Papers in the Argentinian capital, some of which put the story on their front pages, said repairs had recently been made at the 13th-floor balcony of the Montoya family, owners of the dog.
"We are all extremely sad, we cannot understand how all this could happen. Just imagine how the Montoyas feel about it," a neighbor told the Clarin newspaper.


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Seventeen people have died after an amphibious "duck boat" carrying tourists sank in stormy weather in the US state of Missouri, police said. Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said all bodies have now been recovered from Thursday's accident. The vessel was carrying 31 people when it overturned on Table Rock Lake, a popular tourist attraction near the town of Branson. The captain of the amphibious boat survived, but the driver did not. Emergency crews responded to the incident shortly after 19:00 (00:00 GMT) on Thursday. Missouri Highway Patrol said the ages of the deceased range from one to 70, US media reported. Former Branson Mayor Karen Best had to inform the families that their loved ones had died when the boat sank during a storm on July 19, 2018, on Table Rock Lake. She said she will never forget the cries and screaming of the families and boat-sinking survivors.



The amphibious duck boat is shown getting into difficulties and is letting large amounts of water seep into it's shell. The amphibious vehicles operated on land and water, were a popular attraction in Branson for nearly 50 years. They are not operating this year, and Ripley Entertainment, which owns Branson Ride The Ducks, has not said whether they will return, The Kansas City Star reported. Current Branson Mayor Edd Akers, who was elected in April, said it's possible the duck boats will return if they are altered and have better safety features. "They're still operating in other parts of the country," he said. "They are still successful in different areas. You know, if they are meant to come back and are supposed to come back, I think it could."

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Robert McDowell, who designed the duck boat that sank on a Missouri lake on Thursday July 19th 2018 killing 17, did not have any formal engineering training. The boat is pictured being hauled out of Table Rock Lake on Monday 23rd July 2018. Akers acknowledged that the boats are a sensitive topic because of the tragedy. "People are still hurting here," he said. Thirty-one people were aboard when the duck boat entered the lake. The storm came up suddenly, and the waves swamped the boat before it could make it back to shore. Fourteen people survived. An Arkansas father and son -- Steve Smith, 53, and Lance Smith, 15, of Osceola -- died when the duck boat sank. Smith's widow, Pamela Young Smith, and daughter Loren Smith filed a federal lawsuit in September against Ripley Entertainment. Loren Smith survived the sinking. According to the lawsuit, the duck boat wasn't seaworthy as a passenger vessel because of inadequate reserve buoyancy to prevent sinking when flooded and inadequate bilge pumps to prevent it from sinking when it took on water.


In the last photo they took together, 11 members of the Coleman family are shown smiling and posing with a life preserver just before they boarded a duck boat in Branson, Missouri, for a voyage only two of them survived. In the picture, Tia Coleman is seen holding her 1-year-old daughter Arya and standing next to her 76-year-old uncle, Ray Colemen. Her husband, Glenn, rests his hands on the shoulder of their nephew, Donovan Hall, 13, who has his arms around his cousin, Reece, 9. Glenn's parents, Horace and Belinda, stand to the right in the group picture, while 7-year-old Evan Coleman, his aunt, Angela, and his little cousin Max, 2, round out the family portrait. The cheery snapshot was to be a vacation souvenir, a vivid reminder of a summer spent together. Now it is all that Tia Coleman and her nephew, Donovan, have to remember their last moments spent with their loved ones before they died.


Tia Coleman talked about the support she has received from family and friends and her faith since surviving the duck boat tragedy that left nine of her relatives dead. Shortly after taking the photo on Thursday afternoon, the family embarked on a Ride the Ducks tour of Table Rock Lake near Branson, a scheduled 70-minute adventure that turned into a nightmare when a fierce storm suddenly struck and the boat they were on was buffeted by gusts of up to 73 miles per hour and capsized by waves that crested at 6 feet, officials said. The Colemans, of Indianapolis, were among 31 people, including two crew members, aboard the amphibious vessel. Seventeen people died in the tragedy. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident, trying to determine what doomed the boat dubbed the "Stretch Duck 7."


Image Above - Two more victims of the terrible duck boat sinking in Missouri - Note Loren Smith survived the sinking - The Smiths' lawsuit notes the "deadly history" of duck boats. "At least 39 people have died in Duck Boat accidents since 1999," according to the suit, which cited a 1999 duck boat sinking on Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs that killed 13 people. According to the Smiths' suit, the duck boat captain was instructed to alter the normal route and give the "waterborne portion" of the tour first. Passengers began to board at 6:29 p.m., and a severe thunderstorm warning was issued 3 minutes later, according to the suit.



"However, defendants proceeded with boarding and the duck boat tour began anyway," according to the suit. "The duck boat entered the waters of Table Rock Lake at 6:55 p.m., more than 20 minutes after the severe thunderstorm warning was announced." Shortly after entering the water, the waves began to "whitecap," and the winds increased in velocity, according to the suit.
"The captain ordered the plastic side curtains lowered over the windows on the duck boat at 7 p.m.," according to the court document. "This decision later prevented passenger's escape through the windows of the duck boat."


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On July 11th, the Smiths and Ripley Entertainment filed a joint application for approval of a confidential wrongful-death settlement. It hadn't been approved by a federal judge as of Saturday. "Defendant has denied, does deny and continues to deny all liability whatsoever for the death of the decedents and the alleged injury to Loren E. Smith, a minor," according to the application.
The agreement stated that the confidential sum would be a settlement in full for "any and all claims" the Smiths may have now or in the future against Ripley Entertainment and other "released parties," including Branson Duck Vehicles LLC.

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Clifford Plunkett, lead attorney for the Smiths, didn't return an email sent to his work address Saturday. And Angela Artherton, another attorney for the Smiths, didn't return a telephone message left Saturday on her cellphone.
Some witnesses aboard the Showboat Branson Belle and first responders who tried to save people from the duck boat have struggled with emotional and psychological scars left from the tragedy. "I have good friends who were on the showboat, either working there or saw the tragedy take place," Akers said. "Start talking to them and their eyes water because they saw things that they don't like to remember."


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Bill Asher, 69, and his 68-year-old partner Rose Hamman also died in the tragic sinking.



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William Bright, 65, and his 63-year-old wife Janice Bright sadly perished.


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Leslie Dennison also another victim. Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader recalled "utter chaos" at the scene and being told that 31 people were aboard the boat but not being able to see many survivors. "In almost 30 years of law enforcement, that was probably one of the most traumatic events I have been involved in," he said. "I had a deputy on there [the Belle] who jumped in and helped save people and dragged the deceased out of the water. He'll forever be affected by that. The emotional impact it made on everyone in this area, that tragedy will never be forgotten."



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Robert "Bob" Williams and Judith "Judy" Williams.

USA Veterans Hope Center - Bob was the driver of the Branson duck boat. Note Judith Williams was not on the doomed craft and is now a widow.



Tia Coleman of Indianapolis lost her husband, three children and five other relatives in the sinking. She said in a statement Tuesday that she draws energy from the memory of her family as she continues her fight to ban "dangerous, death trap duck boats like the one that killed my family and the others." Interviews with tourists visiting Branson recently found that they were divided on whether the duck boats should return. Some said the attraction should open again because the sinking was a freak accident caused by a storm that came up too quickly or because of bad judgment by the operators. Others said they would never consider riding the boats, even if they were altered.


Court filings by Ripley Entertainment this month show that 19 of 33 others who have filed claims against the company have settled their cases. Three duck boat employees, including the captain, Kenneth Scott McKee, 52, face criminal prosecution. Akers said that once all the lawsuits are settled, he will propose that the city create a memorial to the duck boat victims. "I want a peaceful, reverent place," the mayor said, "close to the lake where families of those lost family members, or those who were affected by the tragedy, could come and pay their respects. That would, to me, be the ideal way to honor those folks."


A federal grand jury indicted the captain of the duck boat that sank in July at Table Rock Lake that caused the deaths of 17 people. U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison announced the 17-count indictment of Kenneth Scott McKee in Springfield Thursday June 20th 2019. U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri says everyone affected by the duck boat tragedy "deserves answers," and he is urging federal agencies to wrap up their investigations. The Republican senator released a statement Friday marking the one-year anniversary of the duck boat sinking. He says the U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board have had "more than enough time" to finish investigating and issue recommendations and new safety measures. Information for this article was contributed by Bill Bowden of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


Captain, Kenneth Scott McKee survived the sinking.

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Curtis P. Lanham, 36, of Galena, the general manager at Ride the Ducks Branson, and Charles V. Baltzell, 76, of Kirbyville, the operations supervisor who was acting as a manager on duty, were charged in a 47 count superseding indictment,The boat’s captain, Kenneth Scott McKee, 51, of Verona, was also hit with additional charges. McKee, who piloted the Stretch Duck 7 boat on July 19, 2018, for Ride the Ducks, has been accused of a litany of violations of federal law overseeing boat captains. Five days before the disaster, the company had begun operating the 6:30 p.m. duck boat tours for the “purpose of increasing business revenue,” according to the indictment. It was that tour, taken by 29 passengers, that ended in a national tragedy. As the general manager, Lanham allowed McKee to put the boat in the water when there was lightning and severe weather approaching, according to the indictment. He also allegedly neglected to require that Stretch Duck 7 be operated in compliance with the provisions of the Coast Guard certificate of inspection, prosecutors said.


Employed as a duck boat captain for 18 years, McKee was indicted in October 2018 on accusations he did not properly assess incoming weather before taking the boat out on water and did not tell passengers to use flotation devices, among other allegations. He also allegedly failed to increase speed and head to the nearest shore as the storm approached. Prosecutors said Baltzell, the operations supervisors, failed to monitor radio communications from employees and did not communicate to McKee the nature of the severe weather. On the day of the sinking, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the region at 11:24 a.m., which was expected to last through 9 p.m. There was potential for wind gusts of up to 75 mph. But at no point between the boat’s departure and its sinking did Baltzell or Lanham communicate with McKee about the severe thunderstorms that were approaching, according to the indictment. The three, accused of misconduct and negligence that day, were also charged with 13 misdemeanor counts — one for each of the 13 passengers who survived. Of the passengers, seven were injured, including a 13-year-old boy and his aunt who were relatives of the nine family members who died.


People pray around a van believed to belong to victims of a duck boat accident in the parking lot of the business running the boat tours Friday, July 20, 2018 in Branson, Mo. | AP Photo/Charlie Riedel - While Ripley entertainments had access to a weather monitoring subscription, duck boat captains were not required to monitor the weather before taking a boat on a tour, according to the 27-page indictment. The company had not established a written policy for what to do during adverse weather, federal prosecutors claimed. The company maintained an operations manual with safety guidelines for severe weather. The manual recommended establishing local procedures for staff to monitor the weather. But, prosecutors say, the company did not do that at Table Rock Lake. In a statement, Tia Coleman, whose husband and their three children were killed in the sinking, called the latest indictments “another major step in the fight for justice for my family and the other victims of a tragedy that easily could have been avoided if human lives were valued more than corporate profits.” Robert J. Mongeluzzi, whose law firm represents Coleman and other plaintiffs in civil litigation against the company, said the indictments ”lay out, in great detail, the utterly reckless conduct of Ripley’s and its most senior, on-site employees.” Mongeluzzi called for duck boats to be banned. While operations ceased in Branson following the sinking, the boats continue to be used in other locations. “They are still unsafe and they are still putting people at risk everyday,” Mongeluzzi said.


Russ McKay looks at a cross left in a makeshift memorial for his friends before a candlelight vigil in the parking lot of Ride the Ducks Friday, July 20, 2018, in Branson, Mo. One of the company's duck boats capsized Thursday night resulting in over a dozen deaths on Table Rock Lake. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) Ripley Entertainment, an Orlando, Florida, corporation, has repeatedly said it cannot comment on the ongoing investigation and that it is fully cooperating with authorities. It purchased Ride the Ducks Branson from Herschend Family Entertainment in December 2017. Suzanne Smagala-Potts, a spokeswoman for Ripley, said the company continues to offer support to their employees as the process moves forward. While the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Missouri brought criminal charges, “all persons charged are entitled to a strong presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said in a statement. The company has also taken steps to provide support for the community, she said, and worked to reach settlements with the victims. McKee has pleaded not guilty to the charges.


Image Above - Steve Paul (pictured), owner of the Test Drive Technologies inspection service, said he flagged up several safety concerns to the boat company last year. Robert McDowell, former owner of Ride The Ducks, taught himself how to modify and maintain dozens of WWII-era duck boats despite lacking any formal mechanical qualifications, according to a court deposition he made last year on a separate case. He began working on duck boats around 1976 after quitting his pre-med studies when his father bought the company, then called Ozark Scenic Tours. McDowell could not find any manuals on duck boat construction so learned the basics by talking to a high school football coach who used to own the firm, he testified to a court in 2015. By the 1980s, he was salvaging duck boats - originally designed for use in World War II to transport troops over sea and land - and adding on parts often taken from junk yards.


Image Above - Tia Coleman, Tia who lost her husband and three children when their boat capsized on Table Rock lake said they were told they wouldn't need life jackets - The boats were called stretch ducks because they were produced by adding an extra section of frame onto a military duck boat to produce an extra 15 inches of seating space for tourist use. The court case during which McDowell gave a deposition was over another duck boat accident in King County, Washington, during which one of the vehicles crossed a median and hit a bus, killing five passengers. The National Transportation Safety Board found that the crash was caused by poor maintenance of the vehicle, which led to a mechanical failure that caused it to cross into the traffic. Steve Paul, owner of the Test Drive Technologies, said he explained that the engine and drainage pumps could fail in inclement weather. Paul also claimed he told the company the boat's canopy made it difficult to escape if it were to capsize. 'The biggest problem with a duck when it sinks is that canopy,' Paul said. 'That canopy becomes what I'll call a people catcher, and people can't get out from under that canopy.' Paul also called into question why the boat was allowed to take to the water with the threat of bad weather looming. 'If you have the information that you could have rough waters or a storm coming, why ever put a boat on that water?' Paul said.


A video of the duck boat just before it capsized suggests that its flexible plastic windows might have been closed and could have trapped passengers as the hybrid boat-truck went down. It does not show passengers jumping clear. On top of the design faults, those who survived the tragedy claimed they had been informed they would not require life jackets. Speaking from her hospital bed, survivor Tia Coleman told reporters that the boat's captain told riders they would not need life jackets. When the vessel began to take on water, Coleman said 'it was too late.' 'I believe that a lot of people could have been spared,' said Coleman, who lost 9 members of her family on the duck boat. 'I lost all of my children. I lost my husband. I lost my mother-in-law and my father-in-law. I lost my uncle. I lost my sister-in-law ... And I love my nephew.'



Image Above - Loren Smith miraculously escaped the sinking craft and swam back to shore,  Another young survivor was 14-year-old Loren Smith of Osceola, Ark. She suffered a concussion, but her father, 53-year-old Steve Smith, and her 15-year-old brother, Lance, died. The teenager cannot remember how she was able to swim out of the boat to safety.  'It was just murky water. I know I swallowed a lot of it trying to breathe,' I saw someone struggling. I went up to push up their feet so they could get help. But the waves were too big, I couldn't go back to save that person.  'It could have been my brother. It could have been my dad,' Loren added as she broke down in tears. Her 15-year-old brother Lance and and their father Steve both tragically died. The teenager's mother Pam wasn't on the boat with the rest of her family as she was out shopping.  



Shaunna Cumberworth Alicia Dennison, 12, of Milan, Illinois, survived the July 19 Missouri duck boat accident that killed 17 people. The following morning, a therapy dog visited her in her room at Cox Medical Center Branson. Her grandmother, 64-year-old Leslie Dennison, was one of those who died. Dennison's mother said her daughter survived because her grandmother pushed her up as the boat was sinking. (Shaunna Cumberworth) Shaunna Cumberworth is Alicia's mother, who took the photo. Pam said she spoke to her husband on the phone as the boat was filling with water. 'He says, 'It's not good, Pam',' the grieving wife said. 'And I told him I loved him, he told me he loved me. And I asked him to take care of the kids. That was our last words.' Moments after the end of that phone call between her parents, 14-year-old Loren Smith says, the duck boat began filling with water.  She swam out of the sinking boat to safety. Loren says the waves eventually pushed her toward the dock, and she clung on until someone pulled her out. Her father, Steve Smith, a 53-year-old church deacon, and her 15-year-old brother Lance were among the 17 people who drowned. Pam Smith later found her daughter at the hospital. "I think I kissed her a thousand times because I love her so," Pam said. "But then my heart sunk too because Lance wasn't there."



Mallory Cunningham, left, Santino Tomasetti, center, and Aubrey Reece attend a candlelight vigil in the parking lot of Ride the Ducks Friday, July 20, 2018, in Branson, Mo. One of the company's duck boats capsized Thursday night resulting in over a dozen deaths on Table Rock Lake. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) Jacobson asked, "How do the two of you as a family deal with this loss?" "Prayers," Pam replied. "We're going to have to lean on people. She's all I've got now.  So, we've got to take care of each other." The Smith family makes the roughly 200-mile trip from their home in Osceola, Arkansas, to Branson, Missouri, nearly every summer. Pam and Steve had been married almost 28 years. He liked to talk to anybody," said Pam. "He never met a stranger. He was just an exceptional guy." Jacobson asked. "How do you want the two of them to be remembered?" "For their Christian walk," Pam replied. "Lance, he was recently baptized. This past Sunday, he preached. And I was so proud. And his little mini-sermon was on being a good example. He had such a big heart." "Everybody was his friend," Loren added.


Lance Smith leading a devotional at his church. | (Photo: Will Hester)

"Yes, everybody just loved him." Loren said losing her brother "is like losing one of your best friends. One of the closest best friends you'll ever separate from." Jacobson asked. "Have you thought a lot about that time on the boat?" "I'm thinking, 'Why me? Why do I have to live?'" Loren said. "You got to live to share your brother's memory, and your father's." "And you have purpose,' said Pam. "You have a purpose, Loren. You've got big things ahead of you. And God knows, I needed you."



Tia Coleman said her family initially lined up for the wrong tour, so they had to switch out their tickets for the 6:30 p.m. ride. She says the crew showed passengers where the life jackets were but said, ‘Don’t worry about it, you won’t need it’,” Coleman said. When swells crashed into the boat, they were told to stay seated, she said. “When that boat is found, all those life jackets are going to be on there,” Coleman said. “Nobody pulled them off.”


In today's world there is a huge amount of products that you can purchase cheaply, Everyone will possess some junk of some kind in there homes garages lockups etc regardless of the fact that it may have a value or not. Fly tipping is a major problem in cities and towns as some councils charge to take away your unwanted sofa's fridge freezers hoovers and many other electrical and material goods. Junk mails is also a big problem and will soon mount up in your hallway if you don't collect it on a regular basis. recycling is definitely the best way to get rid of your unwanted junk if you can, Not all of your rubbish get's recycled but most does especially glass. Some people control there spending and only purchase an item if they really need it not because of a sudden incisive desire but because they are thinking about the environment and the implications junk has on it. Don't forget the billions of tonnes of plastic waste that has been dumped or found it's way into the oceans of the world, This is a serious ecological environmental problem and reducing your purchases of plastic and other materials will help to reduce waste. Many food items use more plastic than required and so do other products, every company that produces should help to reduce plastic and other materials to improve the earth and global warming issues. Between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, according to figures published in the journal Science in 2015. Plastic can enter the ocean as large, identifiable items or as micro plastics - pieces under five millimetres in length.


Ocean life is consuming the plastic pieces as they think it is food while other larger pieces get wrapped around the creatures body and it suffocates starves or drowns in it's own seawater. Fishermen catch fish and then we as humans eat the fish which has eaten the plastic, Plastic waste is having a diverse effect on the food chain and now is the time to start the cleaning of the oceans and to reduce your purchases. Try and reuse plastic containers and other plastics if possible, don't buy products that use excessive amounts of plastic. Plastics are also polluting are cities, towns, nature reserves, forests and rivers among other things. Wild animals are also effected by plastics including birds and other life.


Are you a hoarder or maybe a casual collector of fine indian relics or even stamps, stickers, trainers, clothes, cars, the list is endless. There is actually a medical term for people that hoard items: Compulsive hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder, is a behavioral pattern characterized by excessive acquisition of and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. Some people can not resist picking up discarded items in the street or even bins outside shops etc,


Continuously hoarding boxes and junk will eventually cause a whole host of problems mainly due to having little space to move around and hygiene, Hoarding can increase the risk to both public health and safety. Some hoarding homes exude unhealthy amounts of trash and vermin, while others are giant tinderboxes. Some hoarders have sought help and partially resolved their problem, seeking to live normally. (If in doubt just move out)


Image Above - Down the Rabbit Hole - In the 1940s, two brothers lived as recluses in their Harlem mansion. The older brother, Homer Collyer, had gone blind in 1922,  and his younger brother, Langley Collyer, took care of him. Langley hoped to some day restore Homer’s sight and had begun collecting newspapers for him to read once he could see. Over the years, these papers started to pile up and were joined by garbage and clutter. Junk filled every room of the mansion. Langley only left the house at night to find food for Homer and himself, usually going to great lengths to buy the cheapest food possible. Langley was scared of intruders and burglars, so he set booby traps among the clutter. These traps, however, led to the brothers’ deaths.


In 1947, Langley was crushed when he set off a trap while bringing food to his brother. Homer, who wasn’t far away, must have heard this happen, but he could do nothing to help his brother and later died of starvation, his body had been partially eaten by the dozens of rats that also lived in the home. When the brothers hadn’t been heard from for some time, authorities entered the home by putting holes in the roof and walls. The brothers’ bodies were discovered along with their large collection of junk. Police began emptying the mansion by throwing items to the street below.


The house was deemed an unsafe fire hazard and was razed later that month in 1947. Some of the items of interest found in their home ended up as exhibits at dime museums, featured alongside sideshow performers and curiosities. The rest was sold at auction.


Langley believed his brother’s sight could be restored with a diet high in vitamin C so he fed Homer 100 oranges a week. He adapted a Model T Ford to generate electricity after their power was cut off, along with their water and gas in 1928 due to unpaid bills. The telephone lines were disconnected in 1917. They said they didn’t mind because they had no one to talk to. When the bank came to evict them in 1942 for failing to pay their mortgage for three years, police found Langley in a clearing he had made in the walls of junk. Without a word, he wrote a check for the equivalent of nearly $100,000 today to pay off the mortgage in one single payment and promptly ordered everyone off the property. The next time authorities returned, it would be to search for the bodies of the Collyers. An anonymous tipster had called the police, convinced there was a dead body in the house. To enter the sealed brownstone, an officer broke a window on the second floor and climbed through.


Homer and Langley Collyer were both educated at Columbia University. Homer had a degree in law and Langley studied engineering and also became an accomplished concert pianist who performed at Carnegie Hall. Their childhood and family life was normal enough. Mom was former opera singer, a descendent of an old New York family who were one of the first to emigrate to America on the Mayflower. Dad was a doctor, a wealthy gynecologist, who you might say had had a reputation for being a little eccentric–  Dr. Herman Collyer was often seen paddling down the East River in a canoe on his way to work at the hospital on Blackwell’s Island, and then carrying the canoe back to his home in Harlem. It might also be worth mentioning Mr. and Mrs. Collyer were first cousins, who eventually separated when their sons were in the 30s. Homer and Langley, who had never married or lived on their own, chose to remain at the family’s Harlem brownstone with their mother. When their parents died, all possessions were left to the brothers. 


Langley ventured out only after midnight for food runs. He would collect countless unwanted and abandoned items on the street that caught his eye along the way.

When Homer became paralyzed due to inflammatory rheumatism, the brothers refused to seek professional medical treatment. Although their father was a doctor, they distrusted doctors. They later told reporters who had become interested in the eccentric local story, “We have a medical library of 15,000 books in the house. We decided we would not call in any doctors. You see, we knew too much about medicine.”


The house was a maze of hoarded items piled high to the ceiling. A list of notable finds recorded in the house after their deaths includes 25000 books, human organs in picked jars from their father’s medical practice, 14 pianos, two organs, countless decades old newspapers,  baby carriages, a collection of guns, bowling balls, the folding top of a horse-drawn carriage, dressmaking dummies, pin-up posters from the early 1900s and 8 live cats.


Unable to get past the solid walls of junk, a squad of men began making their way through the debris by throwing out everything blocking their way onto the street. The spectacle drew a crowd of thousands as the entire neighborhood came to watch the mysterious Collyer townhouse being emptied of its contents.After several hours, they found Homer’s body. Medical examiners later determined he had died of starvation and heart disease. They continued searching for his younger brother unsuccessfully. It was suspected that Langley had been the anonymous caller and had fled the family home, possibly on the run following the death of his brother. A massive manhunt was launched, with the authorities searching nine different states in a bid to find the missing brother. Three weeks later, knee-deep in the ongoing clean-up effort of the house, a workman found the decomposing body of Langley just ten feet away from where his brother had died. He was buried in one of his two-foot wide tunnels lined with rusty bed springs and a chest of drawers. He had died of asphyxiation after he accidentally tripped one of the booby traps and was crushed by debris. Police believe he was crawling through the tunnel to bring food to his brother. The cumulative estate of the Collyer brothers was valued at the modern equivalent of $1,117,623. Fifty-six people made claims for the estate. One woman even tried to claim to be their long lost sister. In 1952, county court ruled that twenty-three of the claimants were to split the estate equally.

Since the 1960s, the site of the former Collyer house has been a pocket park, named for the brothers.


Two decades have passed since the Cavalese cable-car disaster, in which a U.S. Marine Corps airplane severed a gondola cable and sent 20 people plummeting to their deaths on a ski slope in the Italian Alps. For the families of the dead, the grief lingers on. So do the questions: How did the American pilots collectively serve only four months in military prison despite being court-martialed twice for the accident and coverup? And how did a Marine officer, who advised the pilots to destroy a videotape of that flight, avoid punishment and resume his rise to colonel?

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Image Above -Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler. On the sunny morning of February 3rd, 1998, in the Dolomite mountains outside the Italian town of Cavalese, four Marine officers were on a training mission in a Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler a four-seat aircraft designed for electronic warfare. Over a ski resort, while the pilots performed low-altitude flight maneuvers for fun, the plane struck the cable supporting a bright yellow gondola car. The victims inside free-fell 260 feet onto rocks and snow. The “Strage del Cermis” (Italian for “Massacre of Cermis”), named for the mountain ridge where the bodies were recovered, claimed the lives of eight Germans, five Belgians, three Italians, two Poles, one Dutch citizen, and one Austrian.


The plane was manned by Marine Capt. Richard Ashby, a 30-year-old on his final training flight before promotion to fighter pilot, and Capt. Joseph Schweitzer, a navigator with a decade of flight experience. Capt. William Raney and Capt. Chandler Seagraves, electronic-warfare officers, were in the back seats. Seagraves was a member of the incoming unit that was scheduled to replace Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron-2 in Aviano, so he was less familiar with the other three Marines on board. He joined the ill-fated flight at the last minute for training in low-altitude flying.

Image Above - Marine Capt. Richard Ashby

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