The life jackets are now a major part of the investigation, as authorities work to figure out if there was any criminal negligence.

“One of the focuses of the investigation is to determine whether or not the operation and this particular voyage was conducted in accordance with the operational guidance and manual for Ride the Ducks,”

“The lifesaving requirements and regulations require that personal flotation devices be on board for all passengers, and the decision to [wear] those [life jackets] is made as an operational decision for the captain on board,”

There was shock among those watching when the boat broke the water’s surface and the fluorescent orange of unused life jackets came into view. Many are left with questions about the life jackets, including whether they were accessible to the passengers and, if they were accessible, why weren’t they worn in those final moments before the boat sank.