Duck boat survivor describes sinking

Duck boat survivor Tia Coleman tells how she survived the incident that killed nine members of her family.

Posted: Jul 23, 2018 6:45 AM
Updated: Jul 23, 2018 6:45 AM

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 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.

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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1084488

Reported Deaths: 17386
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1425562217
Lake705171220
Allen64347862
Hamilton49481481
St. Joseph48135639
Elkhart39011536
Vanderburgh33874494
Tippecanoe29863271
Johnson26876463
Hendricks25548379
Porter24683380
Madison20440444
Clark19785275
Vigo18609308
LaPorte16638260
Monroe16237217
Delaware16230286
Howard16181310
Kosciusko13763162
Hancock12644184
Bartholomew12544188
Warrick11889189
Wayne11794264
Floyd11792225
Grant11484233
Morgan10134188
Boone9576120
Noble8921121
Henry8917163
Marshall8792146
Dearborn875798
Dubois8673138
Shelby7958127
Cass7907126
Lawrence7861182
DeKalb7416106
Jackson738093
Huntington7280107
Gibson6922118
Montgomery6830122
Harrison680696
Knox6779113
Steuben641185
Miami6384106
Whitley631160
Putnam626582
Clinton614176
Wabash5958108
Jasper591991
Jefferson5617102
Ripley540892
Adams527881
Daviess4964116
Scott475978
Wells462998
White459967
Greene458399
Clay452162
Decatur4491109
Jennings434666
Fayette429094
LaGrange413890
Posey398344
Washington380654
Randolph3770107
Fountain364962
Spencer353446
Fulton352270
Starke343672
Sullivan342454
Owen341676
Orange320270
Jay315450
Rush293332
Carroll287037
Franklin283544
Perry281453
Vermillion277557
Parke244930
Tipton244664
Pike241744
Blackford213944
Pulaski203158
Newton176552
Brown169850
Crawford167129
Benton160517
Martin149219
Switzerland143712
Warren131416
Union115416
Ohio90513
Unassigned0581

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1673496

Reported Deaths: 26483
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1757641826
Cuyahoga1629012636
Hamilton1118741528
Montgomery791421387
Summit697231199
Lucas615331017
Butler55597803
Stark521611170
Lorain40661639
Warren35239412
Mahoning34821769
Lake31171493
Clermont30541362
Delaware26553182
Trumbull26366611
Licking26095335
Medina25072351
Fairfield24063287
Greene23957369
Clark21542387
Portage20538280
Richland20465336
Wood19524246
Allen18427320
Miami16950348
Columbiana16385331
Muskingum16346206
Wayne15351304
Tuscarawas14018357
Marion12978194
Erie12350198
Ashtabula12171225
Scioto12166182
Pickaway12009151
Ross11417223
Hancock11151173
Geauga10572174
Lawrence10433171
Belmont10200231
Huron9545155
Jefferson9425225
Union933375
Sandusky8981166
Seneca8639156
Knox8591169
Washington8578156
Athens825096
Darke8215179
Ashland7777147
Auglaize7695115
Shelby7302132
Defiance7174114
Brown7015115
Crawford7010150
Fulton6953111
Logan6818108
Mercer679397
Guernsey677983
Highland6591117
Madison639289
Clinton6361106
Williams623498
Preble6153139
Putnam6054120
Jackson569496
Champaign564786
Perry557179
Coshocton5525103
Ottawa549599
Morrow504464
Fayette481270
Hardin475399
Gallia460278
Pike457876
Van Wert451591
Adams4495109
Henry422776
Hocking398093
Holmes3917137
Wyandot366673
Carroll348978
Paulding317449
Meigs300957
Monroe230860
Noble216147
Morgan208938
Harrison204052
Vinton182037
Unassigned05
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