Ottawa, KS boat disaster, June 1978


Ottawa, Kan. - The Whippoorwill, a small excursion boat with 59 passengers and crewmen aboard, was capsized Saturday night on Lake Pomona by what authorities suspected was a tornado.

Two persons were known dead, and eight were missing. Fourteen were injured.

Some were believed trapped under the boat.

A Kansas Highway Patrol spokesman said the wind was generated by a severe thunderstorm and could have been "a tornado or a strong straight wind."

One witness said the rear paddle wheel type boat was about 15 minutes into its cruise when passengers onticed a funnel on the lake. The boat began to head back to shore but tipped over. Rescue workers were attempting to tow the overturned craft back to shore.

The Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, WI 18 June, 1978


Whippoorwill tragedy on Lake Pomona claimed 16 lives

Three family members spanning three generations – 66 year old Grace (nee Kingsbury) Vogel, her 34 year old daughter Sandra (nee Vogel) Wright, and 9 year old granddaughter Melisa Leigh Wright – were among 16 persons who tragically died June 17, 1978 when a tornado struck and capsized the showboat "Whippoorwill" on Lake Pomona in Franklin Co. KS.