One of the survivors from the duck boat capsizing has spoken out about losing nine of her family members in the incident. She revealed that the captain told them life jackets weren’t necessary before they set out.
Seventeen people died after a duck boat carrying 31 people during a severe thunderstorm capsized and sank to the bottom of Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri on July 19. Now, one of the survivors is opening up about the horrific tragedy. Indianapolis resident Tia Coleman spoke to Fox59 from her hospital bed after finding out that nine of the victims were members of her family. Only one other relative besides her survived the accident.
“My heart is very heavy. Out of 11 of us, only two of us surviving – that’s me and my nephew,” Coleman told the news outlet. “I lost all my children, my brother-in-law.” She added that none of the passengers had on life vests because the captain said they didn’t need to “worry about grabbing the life jackets – you won’t need them.” But when the situation clearly called for the floating devices, “it was too late,” she said. “I believe that a lot of people could have been spared.”
Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader previously confirmed to that media outlet that the captain was among those who survived the accident. He also said that the life jackets were stored on the boat, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether passengers were wearing them when the boat capsized.
In footage obtained by KOLR10 News, Coleman recalled her haunting experience after the boat capsized. “I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t hear screams. It felt like I was out there on my own,” she said while tearing up. “I was yelling, I was screaming. Finally I said, ‘Lord, just let me die. Let me die. I can’t keep drowning. I just can’t keep drowning.’ That’s how I felt.”
“Then I just let go and I started floating. And I was floating up to the top. I felt the water temperature raise to warm,” she continued. “And then I felt the temperature raise, I jumped up and I saw the big boat that sits out there.” She then explained that she saw a large boat nearby and people onboard were throwing life jackets out in the water to help the survivors.