9 Family Members Among 17 Dead in Missouri Boat Tragedy

9 Family Members Among 17 Dead in Missouri Boat Tragedy

Saturday, 21 July, 2018 - 05:15
Emergency workers patrol an area of Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo., on Friday. CHARLIE RIEDEL / AP
Asharq Al-Awsat
Nine members of one family were among 17 people killed when a US "duck boat” capsized during a sudden storm on a Missouri lake amid accusations they were told there'd be no need for life jackets.

The accident occurred Thursday night in full view of witnesses, at least one of whom captured video of the amphibious vessel bobbing in rough waters on Table Rock Lake near the city of Branson, a popular holiday destination. 

"My heart is very heavy. Out of 11 of us there's only two that's surviving, that's me and my nephew" Tia Coleman, her voice breaking, told Fox59 from her hospital bed.

"I lost all of my children. I lost my husband. I lost my mother-in-law and my father-in-law," along with other relatives, she told the Indianapolis TV station.

Coleman said the boat's captain had told passengers earlier in their trip that they "won't need" life jackets.

"He said it when we were in the water," she told Fox59. "When it was time to grab them, it was too late and I believe that a lot of people could have been spared."

She added that the water "didn't look ominous at the very first."

The boat was seen struggling to reach shore against strong winds, before succumbing to the waves and beginning to sink.

The dead ranged in age from one to 70 years of age, and included the boat's driver, according to the Stone County Sheriff's office.

He was one of two crew, US media reported. The other, who survived, was in charge when the craft owned by Ripley Entertainment company took to the water.

Several people were injured.

The incident occurred during heavy winds as a storm moved over the man-made lake in southern Missouri. The duck boat was one of two in the water at the time but the other safely reached shore. 

Among the unanswered questions were whether the boat crew was aware of weather warnings, and whether passengers were wearing life vests. 

"From what I understand, there was life jackets in the duck (boat)," said Sheriff Doug Rader.

Branson, Missouri, is a vacation destination popular for its theaters and country music.

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