BREAKING NEWS California to let schools, gyms, bars reopen next week Full Story

Duck boat accident survivor mourns her 9 relatives who drowned

Tia Coleman's thoughts as she struggled to swim to the surface of the lake were focused on her family.She and ...

Posted: Jul 22, 2018 7:59 PM
Updated: Jul 22, 2018 7:59 PM

Tia Coleman's thoughts as she struggled to swim to the surface of the lake were focused on her family.

She and 10 of her relatives were on a family vacation from Indiana, taking a tour Thursday of Table Rock Lake near the Missouri tourist hotspot of Branson.

A treacherous squall sank the boat, sending Coleman down into cold, deep water.

She knew she had to go up to get to safety and to help her children.

"I said, 'Lord, please, I've got to get to my babies. I've got to get to my babies," she said Saturday at a news conference at Cox Medical Center Branson, where she has been hospitalized since the incident that took 17 lives, including her husband, three children and five other members of her family.

Coleman wept at times as she described trying to help her family and save herself. At other times she proudly talked about her kin, describing her memories of them.

Her children have always loved to swim, Coleman said. They had taken vacations to other lakes and to beaches.

"In our family, my oldest son is autistic so a lot of things normal families do, we don't always do," she said.

They went on the duck boat because her eldest could be himself on the boat, she said.

Passengers were told there was a storm coming before they went out on the water, Coleman said. The captain mentioned life jackets before they went onto the lake, she added, but he said, "you won't need them so we didn't grab them."

Coleman said she thinks if she had been able to get a life jacket to her children -- she had a son sitting next to her -- she could have saved them.

"I felt like, if I was able to get a life jacket I could have saved my babies because they could have at least floated up to the top and somebody could have grabbed them. And I wasn't able to do that," she said.

Coleman told reporters that she hit her head as she tried to exit the boat, possibly butting up against the canopy.

"The harder I was kicking to the top, I was pulled down," she said.

As she lost hope of surviving, Coleman just let go and started floating. She felt warmer water closer to the surface and reached out her hand.

When her head emerged from the lake, she looked around and saw a big riverboat docked nearby, but she didn't see anyone from her family.

All of them but a nephew had perished.

Coleman felt hands reaching down for her and then she realized she was being pulled out of the water.

When asked whether she is happy she made it out alive, Coleman said she doesn't know yet and only time will tell. But she thinks there is a reason she survived.

"God must have something for me because there's no way I should be here," she said.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 125738

Reported Deaths: 4529
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles610682569
Riverside8777355
San Diego7940288
Orange7064174
San Bernardino5930217
Alameda3725101
Santa Clara2892144
San Francisco269843
Imperial256833
Kern253445
San Mateo229988
Tulare211692
Fresno201440
Santa Barbara173714
Contra Costa157738
Sacramento151959
Kings14526
Ventura121635
San Joaquin105036
Stanislaus81631
Monterey64010
Sonoma6104
Solano56522
Marin53017
Merced3207
San Luis Obispo2911
Placer2659
Santa Cruz2212
Yolo21624
Madera1413
Napa1293
Humboldt1044
San Benito1022
El Dorado1020
Butte651
Sutter512
Nevada491
Del Norte470
Shasta424
Mono371
Mendocino330
Yuba311
Lake300
Inyo201
Calaveras190
Glenn170
Mariposa161
Amador100
Siskiyou90
Tehama71
Colusa70
Lassen60
Tuolumne50
Plumas40
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Chico
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 72°
Oroville
Overcast
69° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 69°
Paradise
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 72°
Chester
Scattered Clouds
47° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 40°
Red Bluff
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 66°
Willows
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 72°
Much cooler with gusty winds and the potential for active weather this weekend.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events