BRANSON MO NEWS: By Christal HayesUSA TODAYWhen Tia Coleman boarded a duck boat in Branson, Missouri, on Thursday, July 19, crew members showed her where life jackets, in three different sizes, were stored.
But she says no one on the vessel told her to grab them as the ship started to fill with water, leaving it to capsize and steal 17 lives. Nine of her family members were among those killed, including three of her own children. She says if she had life jackets she could have saved her children.
“They could have at least floated up to the top and someone could have grabbed them,” she said, starting to cry. “And I wasn’t able to do that.”
Passengers were told there was a storm coming before they went out on the water, Ms. Coleman said. They were told that the boat could take on waves of up to 18 to 10 feet, and she added that they were also told, “There are life jackets and they are above you, but ‘you don’t need to know where they are because you won’t need to use them.’”
Ms. Coleman said the crew instructed the passengers to sit two to three people to a seat.“I was in the very front seat (with) my oldest son, who I explained earlier is on the autism spectrum, he’s very excitable,” she said. “So I wanted to make sure I can keep a hold of him. If he saw anything or splashed with water.”
“As the first big wave came in, it looked like the water came into the boat then it washed out the back,” Ms. Coleman said.
“When the last big wave came in, I lost a hold of my baby. I didn’t know the boat had capsized. I thought it just went under. I …
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