Duck boat victims: 9 family members killed
The youngest was a year old. The oldest was 76. Nine were members of one family. Friends and family are mourning the deaths of 17 people who were killed when a duck boat sank Thursday near Branson, Missouri, during a storm.
The amphibious vehicle went down in about 40 feet of water in rough weather at Table Rock Lake.
The Stone County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Office released the names of all victims early Saturday.
Here’s what we know:
Coleman family hit hard
The sheriff’s office listed nine victims with the surname Coleman, from Indiana. The list included four children, the youngest just 1.
They were Angela, 45; Arya, 1; Belinda, 69; Ervin, 76; Evan, 7; Glenn, 40; Horace, 70; Maxwell, 2; and Reece, 9.
Two other members of the family survived: Tia Coleman and her 13-year-old nephew.
Coleman told CNN affiliate KOLR that when she was in the water, she couldn’t see or hear anyone. She said she yelled, screamed and then let go.
“And I started floating … to the top. I felt the water temperature rise to warm … and I saw the big boat that sits up there,” she told KOLR from a hospital bed, referring to a riverboat docked nearby. “And when I saw they were throwing out life jackets to people and I said, ‘Jesus keep me, just keep me so I can get to my children. Keep me, Lord.’ “
Speaking to CNN on Friday afternoon, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said, “I had a chance to talk to her (Tia Coleman), and it’s difficult to find the right words to say other than (our) thoughts and prayers are with her.”
Gary and Carolyn Coleman of Riverdale, Georgia, told CNN affiliate WSB that their loved ones were on an annual family trip and that all the victims lived in Indianapolis.
“I’m just lost,” Gary Coleman told WSB. “I don’t know. I can’t place it. I can’t imagine it. We’ve had a death in the family. One or two, (but) not a whole family at one time.”
Steve and Lance Smith
Steve Smith, a vacationing retired teacher from Osceola, Arkansas, and his teenage son, Lance, died in the lake, said Glenn Oakes, a church elder at the Osceola Church of Christ.
Oakes said he learned of the deaths through relatives of the Smiths. Oakes said the elder Smith was a church deacon in their 35-member congregation. “It was a great loss for the church,” Oakes said.
Smith’s daughter, Loren, reportedly suffered a concussion but was rescued and taken to a local hospital. Pam Smith, the girl’s mother, was on shore at the time of the accident. Lance Smith was 15, and his father was 53, police said.
Robert ‘Bob’ Williams
Williams, 73, was the driver on the duck boat.
“He’d talk to anybody,” his widow, Judy Williams, said Friday in a phone interview. “He made an effect on many lives. He would give up his life for somebody. That’s the kind of man Robert was, is.”
His grandson, Victor Richardson, told CNN: “He was a God-fearing man; he was very humble. He was the calmest spirit you could ever meet.”
Bob and Judy Williams were married for more than 30 years and lived in Branson, Richardson said.
The USA Veterans Hope Center in Springfield, Missouri, mourned the death of Bob Williams, who was a board member.
“We love Bob. Bob was more than a Board member; he was a friend, mentor, and father and grandfather to our family,” Almer Jackson, the center’s founder & CEO, said in a statement on its website.
William and Janice Bright
The Brights, a husband and wife from the small town of Higginsville, Missouri, east of Kansas City, died in the accident, Karen Abbott, William Bright’s sister, told CNN affiliate WDAF.
The couple had been married for 45 years and had three children, Abbott said. “My great-nieces and nephews now have no grandparents.”
Police said Janice Bright was 63 and her husband was 65.
William Asher and Rosemarie Hamann
Friends of William Asher said he and his partner, Rosemarie Hamann, were inseparable and heavily involved in the community.
“They were a cute little couple; they were always doing things together; they deserved each other, you could tell that,” neighbor Scott Eaton told CNN affiliate KTVI in St. Louis.
Denny Eads, Asher’s friend for nearly a decade, told CNN affiliate KMOV that the couple loved to listen to oldies music together.
“He was just a fun-loving, partygoing, and Rosie was the same way,” Eads said.
Asher was from Missouri and was 69, the sheriff’s office said.
Hamann was 68 and also from Missouri, it said
Jim Roepke, a neighbor for more than 20 years, told KMOV that Asher had the energy of a 40-year-old.
Leslie Dennison is being remembered as a hero for saving her granddaughter’s life.
Her son, Todd Dennison, of Sherrard, Illinois, told The Kansas City Star that his mother had taken his 12-year-old daughter, Alicia, to Branson for a trip. His daughter survived and is in the hospital, the paper reported.
Dennison said his daughter told him that after the boat submerged, she felt her grandmother below her, pushing her upward.
“She said her grandmother saved her,” Dennison told the paper.
Leslie Dennison was 64 and also from Illinois, the sheriff’s office said.