On Thursday, a duck boat carrying 31 people across Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, capsized in a sudden squall, leaving 17 dead.
The tragedy, possibly compounded by a lack of life vests, as state law does not require them for all passengers, claimed the lives of people aged 1 to 76 who boarded the amphibious vehicle in hope of exploring and learning more about the scenic Ozark landscape.
Authorities say a full investigation is currently underway. These are the victims:
The Coleman Family
Nine members of this Indiana family across three generations perished in the accident. Eleven Colemans were aboard; only Tia Coleman of Indianapolis and her teenage nephew survived.
The deceased include Coleman’s husband Glenn, 40, and the couple’s children, Reece, 9; Evan, 7; and Arya, 1; along with Coleman’s sister-in-law Angela, 45, and her 2-year-old, Maxwell. Coleman’s mother-in-law, father-in-law and an uncle living with them also died. They were Belinda, 69; Ervin, 76; and Horace, 70.
Horace Coleman was involved in a youth football organization for more than 40 years, the Kansas City Star reported. A former player expressed his grief over Facebook, where he said the former coach was like a “father figure.”
“My heart is very heavy … I lost all my children,” Coleman told CBS Indianapolis affiliate WTTV. She said none of her family members took life jackets because the captain said they would not need them, adding that by the time of the accident “it was too late.”
Robert ‘Bob’ Williams
Bob Williams, 73, was one of two crew members aboard, responsible for driving the boat.
Known as Pastor Bob, he served as a pastor at The King’s Cathedral in Providence, Rhode Island, for more than a decade, the Kansas City Star reported, before moving to the Branson area with his wife.
“He was an outstanding individual and one of the most humble people I’ve ever known,” a friend, Tony Krukow, told the local paper.
Steve and Lance Smith
Steve Smith, 53, was aboard the boat with his two children. Although his daughter Loren survived, his son Lance, 15, did not. Steve’s wife, Pamela, had gone shopping instead of joining her family on the tour.
Steve was a deacon at Osceola Church of Christ in a small Arkansas town about an hour north of Memphis, the Christian Chronicle reported. His father told Arkansas Online that Steve was a retired math teacher who loved old Westerns.
In an online request for prayers for the Smiths, a friend of the family recounted how Lance had recently gotten more involved in the church.
“This past Sunday I finally was able to get Lance to do a devotional and break out his shell!” Will Hester wrote on Facebook. “He was like a son to me, and I will miss him greatly. He was the perfect example of humility and compassion!”
Illinois resident Leslie Dennison, 64, was aboard the tour boat as part of a special trip taken with her 12-year-old granddaughter, Alicia, who survived the accident.
Todd Dennison, Leslie’s son, said his daughter recalled her grandmother pushing her upward when the two were submerged underwater.
“She said her grandmother saved her,” Dennison told the Kansas City Star.
William ‘Bill’ Asher and Rosemarie ‘Rosie’ Hamann
Bill, 69, and Rosie, 68, who were dating, were known to friends and family as “the life of the party,” the Kansas City Star reported.
Neighbors recalled how involved the couple was with their St. Louis County community. One told local affiliate Fox 2 that the couple “had the fire department out here for the children to play” once a year. Another said the couple had been celebrating Rosie’s birthday when the tragedy struck.
Denny Eads, a longtime friend of Bill’s, told local affiliate KMOV that the couple liked listening to “the oldies” together.
William ‘Bill’ Bright and Janice ‘Jan’ Bright
William Bright, 65, and Janice Bright, 63, were married for 45 years and attended Higginsville Baptist Church in Missouri, local news affiliate Fox 4 reported. The couple, who had 16 grandchildren, were vacationing at Table Rock Lake from Higginsville to celebrate their anniversary.
Will’s sister Karen Abbott said she had been planning to meet the couple before learning of the accident.
“Most people say they don’t like their sister-in-laws. I’ve loved Janice for 47 years. She was my friend before she was my sister,” Abbot told the Kansas City Star.
Neighbor Barbara Beck told Fox 4 that she would frequently visit the couple at their home, saying, “I sat with them every day.” Her husband Bob Beck added, “They were nice people. Real nice people. Especially Jan, she was just wonderful.”