Survivor recounts boat accident that killed 9 family members
- Author: Joey Payne Jul 23, 2018,
Jul 23, 2018, 0:28
But she says she doesn't blame the operator of the doomed boat.
"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 told Fox News.
In retrospect, what's also heartbreaking is that while taking the photo, the Colemans realized they had purchased tickets for another boat - one that could have saved their lives, a witness to the incident recalled.
Her husband and three children, aged nine, seven and one; her 45-year-old sister-in-law and two-year-old nephew; her mother-in-law and father-in-law and her husband's uncle all died on Thursday in the deadliest accident of its kind in almost two decades. Seventeen people died Thursday when one of the boats sank in a storm with 5-foot waves on Table Rock Lake in Branson.
Others killed included a Missouri couple who had just celebrated a birthday; another Missouri couple on what was planned as their last extended vacation; an IL woman who died while saving her granddaughter's life; an Arkansas father and son; and a retired pastor who was the boat's operator. The NTSB recommended passengers not wear life jackets on boats that have canopies because when the vehicles sink, the life jackets can float passengers into the canopy, preventing escape. An initial assessment blamed thunderstorms and winds that approached hurricane strength, but it wasn't clear why the amphibious vehicle even ventured out into the water.
The Coast Guard requires life jackets on boats but for amphibious tour boats, which are part boat and part bus, recommendations are left up to the captain on whether to request passengers to wear the jackets. The area had been under a severe thunderstorm watch for hours and a severe thunderstorm warning for more than 30 minutes before the boat sank.
Ripley Entertainment, the company operating the duck boats in Branson, did not respond to messages seeking comment from the USA TODAY Network. Jim Pattison Jr., president of Ripley Entertainment, parent company of Ride the Ducks, said the storm came on suddenly and took the crew by surprise.
"Out of 11 of us, only two of us surviving - that's me and my nephew".
On Saturday, 34-year-old Tia Coleman, who lost her three young children and husband in the tragedy, as well as her father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephew and uncle, recalled the moments just before the boat's sinking and the desperate thoughts that flooded her mind as she struggled to survive. She said this was the company's only accident in more than 40 years of operation.
Others killed included William Bright, 65, and his wife, Janice, 63.
William Bright's final public Facebook posting noted the wedding anniversary and how happy he was with his wife, three kids and 16 grandchildren.
Emergency workers patrol Friday near the spot where the duck boat capsized the night before. In a final Facebook photo posted by Hamann, he's sticking his tongue out and she's smiling. Operators have lengthened some of the boats from their original designs and sometimes have added canopies and see-through vinyl "walls", allowing them to operate in bad weather. They hope this will help the Coleman's bury their loved ones.
Duck boats travel on both land and water and are popular among tourists in major cities.
Jeffrey Goodman, who has represented people injured in past duck boat accidents, said the vessels should be banned. "When youre on vacation and youre touring, you expect whoevers running these facilities to be alert on weather and anything else in the surroundings that could bring harm to anyone", Carolyn Coleman said.
A GoFundMe has been set up for the Coleman family to help with funeral arrangements.
Pastor Bob was a prince of a man, loving, kind, and generous, whose loss to our family is incalculable.
Earlier, Mayor Karen Best said Branson is typically a city "full of smiles ..." A total of nine members of her family perished.