On Thursday a Branson “Duck Boat” accident killed 17 people.
Ducks are World War II amphibious vehicles that are often restored for commercial entertainment use.
Tia Coleman survived but lost her husband, 3 children and and five other family members.
She claims that passengers were told “‘don’t worry about grabbing the life jackets” prior to departure.
According to The Daily Mail:
Speaking from her hospital bed, Tia tearfully told Reuters of her horrific experience trying to get out of the boat.
‘I couldn’t see anybody, I couldn’t hear anything – I couldn’t hear screams – it felt like I was out there on my own,’ she said.
‘I was yelling, I was screaming and finally I said: “Lord, just let me die, let me die – I can’t keep drowning, I just can’t…
‘Then I just let go, and I started floating, and I was floating to the top and I felt the water temperature raise to warm, and I jumped up and saw the big boat that sits out there.
‘When I saw [the first responders helping survivors on the pier], they were throwing out life jackets to people. And I said: ‘Jesus keep me, just keep me so I can get to my children’.
Of 11 family members aboard the boat, only Tia and her nephew survived.
There are multiple boarding stations in Branson, and the family boarded at the wrong station. They should have been on a different boat.
The Daily Mail adds:
Jim Pattison Jr, president of Ripley Entertainment, which owns the vessel, told CBS the boats had life jackets on board, but Missouri law doesn’t require people wear them.
Tia Coleman acknowledges that the jackets were on board but everything happened so quickly that there was no time to react. She says, “‘When it was time to grab them, it was too late.”
As a local to the area I have taken the “Ride the Ducks” tour several times. I have never been told not to worry about life jackets. Safety is a big part of the tour.
I have not been encouraged to wear one, nor told I could not wear a life jacket. I can tell you from personal experience that I have never seen anyone wear a life jacket aboard “The Ducks” but I have also never heard a captain say anything like Coleman claims.
The winds from this particular storm system were fierce enough to snap some trees in my neighborhood, including one that is still awaiting attention in my back yard.
Please pray for Tia Coleman in her time of loss.