Tragedy struck an Indiana family that lost nine members when a tourist duck boat capsized in a Missouri lake on Thursday, leaving only two surviving members.
One of those two survivors, Tia Coleman, has spoken out about the incident in which17 people were killed when the boat capsized in Table Rock Lake amid a severe thunderstorm. The victims ranged in age from one to 76 years old, the local Sheriff’s office announced. Seven other people were injured.
Coleman lost her husband, three children, and parents-in-law among others. Her 13-year-old nephew was the only other person from the family to survive.
“I couldn’t hear screams, it felt like I was out there on my own,” Coleman told KOLR from her hospital bed. “And I was yelling, screaming and finally, I said, ‘Lord, just let me die, let me die, I can’t keep drowning, I just can’t keep drowning.’ And then I just let go.”
A rescue boat threw her a life jacket and she was pulled aboard.
An early investigation has found that the boast set out despite winds approaching hurricane force, according to a National Transportation Safety Board official.
Coleman also says that the captain on the duck boat, who survived, told the passengers that they did not have to wear life jackets. There appeared to be enough life jackets for everyone on board.
“My husband would want me to say this — he would want the world to know that on this boat we were on, the captain had told us ‘don’t worry about grabbing the life jackets — you won’t need them’ so nobody grabbed them as we listened to the captain as he told us to stay seated,” Coleman said.
During the press conference that she gave Saturday, Coleman says that her family would have survived if they had their life jackets
“The biggest thing that stood out to me is I felt like if I was able to get a life jacket I could have saved my babies because they could have at least floated up to the top and somebody would have grabbed them,” she explained.
A private inspector said Saturday that he warned Ripley Entertainment, the company operating the duck boats, about design flaws putting the watercraft at greater risk of sinking, less than a year before the accident.
So far, over $300,000 has been raised for the family through a GoFundMe fundraiser.