(CBSNEWS) – Nine of the 17 people who died in a duck boat accident were from the same family, a spokesperson for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Friday. Another two members of the same family survived when the boat capsized on Table Rock Lake near the tourist town of Branson, the spokesperson said.
Tia Coleman told CBS Indianapolis affiliate WTTV that she and 10 family members were on board, and only she and her 13-year-old nephew survived. “My heart is very heavy … I lost all my children,” she said.
Coleman said the captain of the boat told them “don’t worry about grabbing the life jackets – you won’t need them,” so none of the family members grabbed them.
“However in doing that, when it was time to grab them, it was too late and I believe that a lot of people could have been spared,” Coleman said.
She says there’s not much that can be done.
“The only thing that I would like to be done but can’t, is to bring my family back,” Coleman said.
She described her ordeal to CBS Springfield, Missouri, affiliate KOLR, saying she “couldn’t see anybody, I couldn’t hear anything.”
“I couldn’t hear screams, it felt like I was out there on my own,” Coleman said.
“I was yelling. I was screaming,” she said. “And finally I said, ‘Lord, just let me die, let me die. … I can’t keep drowning, I just can’t keep drowning.’ And then I just let go.”
Coleman said her sister-in-law was there “with her 13-year-old, soon to be 3-year-old, I was there, with my husband and our three children, who were 9, 7, and 1. My in-laws were there, my mother-in-law and my father-in-law and the uncle that lives with them.”
Coleman said the captain took over the boat, and the big swells of water started coming over. “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,'” Coleman told KOLR.
Coleman said that’s when the boat started sinking, and she tried to swim.
“My head pushed up to the top of the water and I lost control, I didn’t have anybody with me,” Coleman 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 … And I started floating. I was floating up to the top, I felt the water temperature raise to warm, and as I felt the water temperature raise I jumped up and I saw the big boat that sits out there.”
It was a rescue boat with people throwing life jackets into the water.
“And I said Jesus please keep me, just keep me so I can get to my children,” said Coleman. “Keep me, Lord. I kept swimming, I was swimming as fast as I could. And I couldn’t reach the life jackets.”