Madam Carroll talks boat safety

The owner of the Madam Carroll in Monticello, Indiana says he understands the liability that comes with owning a boat business.

Posted: Aug. 8, 2018 6:46 PM
Updated: Aug. 8, 2018 6:46 PM

MONTICELLO, Ind. (WLFI) — Investigators in Missouri continue to learn more about the duck boat incident that killed 17 passengers last month. Nine of them were members of an Indianapolis family.

It resulted in major lawsuits against the company that owned the boat.

Tom Heckard, the owner of the Madam Carroll in Monticello, Indiana said he understands the liability that comes with owning a boat business.

That's why he's willing to disappoint customers for the sake of safety.

Madam Carroll Office Manager Tina Miller showed News 18 where the 500 life vests sit stacked inside the Madam Carroll.

"I don't think they've ever been used," said Miller. 

Heckard credits safety protocol for that.

"We will not go out if there's a chance of heavy storms nearby strong winds and lightning and such," said Heckard. 

"We watch that radar," added Miller. "We will apologize to people if they are upset we didn't go out on time. It's OK that you didn't go out. I would rather you be mad at me for five minutes than not have a chance to be mad at me ever."

Miller thinks those 17 people who died in July's duck boat incident would still be alive today had the company followed the same safety procedures implemented by her boss and boat captain.

"Why did they even go out? I don't believe they should have gone out, they knew the weather report," said Miller. 

When the weather is bad in Monticello, the Madam Carroll stays docked.

"They have the option of getting off, yes they do. We have umbrellas for some if it's pouring rain and they want to get off, we will walk them out with umbrellas," said Miller. 

Canceling a boat trip for a storm may seem extreme for a boat this size.

"I mean, our boat is 312 tons, it's going to take one heck of a storm to push this boat around," said Heckard. 

But he said it's not worth the risk.

"It's safety first for the customers," stressed Miller. 

At the time of the duck boat incident in Missouri, local weather reports included thunderstorm warnings and winds of over 70 miles per hour.

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