Crews have successfully raised the Ride The Ducks boat that capsized during a rain storm on a Missouri lake in Branson, Missouri on Thursday.
The WWII duck boat capsized during high winds and rain in Table Rock Lake, killing 17 people, including 9 members of the same family.
Survivor Tia Caldwell, who was briefly hospitalized with aspiration pneumonia, lost her husband, Glenn Coleman, 40, and her three children: Reece Coleman, 9, and Evan Coleman, 7, and Arya Coleman, 1.
Only Coleman and her 13-year-old nephew survived the tragic accident. The boy’s mother, Angela Coleman, 45, and brother, Maxwell Coleman, 2, also died, along with Coleman’s mother-in-law, father-in-law and uncle: Belinda Coleman, 69, Ervin Coleman, 76, and Horace Coleman, 70.
Coleman said the boat’s captain told passengers not to grab life jackets during the boat ride — despite storm warnings and rough, choppy water.
“The captain had told us, ‘Don’t worry about grabbing the life jackets, you won’t need them,'” Coleman told PEOPLE. “So nobody grabbed them because we listened to the captain as he told us the safety [rules].
The boat captain was among 17 people killed when the boat overturned after it was hit by a big wave.
Coleman said she and her family were visiting from Indiana. The entire family took the tour boat ride along with 18 other passengers and 2 crew members.
“My heart is very heavy,” Coleman told FOX59. “Out of 11 of us, only two of us surviving… I lost all my children. I lost my husband. I lost my mother-in-law and my father-in-law. I lost my uncle. I lost my sister-in-law. And I lost my nephew. I’m okay but this is really hard. This is really hard.”
Coleman described the chaotic scene moments before the boat capsized.
“Once [the caption] takes over, this big huge wave’s choppy, everybody started getting like, ‘Hey, this is getting a little bit too much,” Tia said in the video. “And then it got really choppy and big swells of water started coming in to the boat. Then a really huge wave swept over, and when that wave swept over, the last thing I heard my sister-in-law say was ‘Grab the baby.'”
She said she struggled to reach the surface as the boat dragged her underwater.
“My head pushed up to the top of the water and I lost control, I didn’t have anybody with me,” Tia said. “I couldn’t see anybody. And I know it wasn’t but I felt like I struggled for at least an hour, but it was probably like 10 minutes. And I just remembered I kept sinking, I kept sinking.
“I couldn’t see anybody, I couldn’t hear anything, I couldn’t hear screams” Tia continued. “It felt like I was out there on my own. I was yelling and I was screaming. And finally I said, ‘Lord, just let me die. I can’t keep drowning.’ That’s how I felt.”
During an interview on CNN, Coleman said search crews found her husband clutching their three children. “When they found my husband, he had all my babies,” she said as tears streamed down her face.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) July 23, 2018
Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images