Sat Jul 21 01:10:42 EDT 2018
The 17 victims who tragically died onboard a duck boat that capsized in at Table Rock Lake, Missouri, on Thursday have been identified.
The Coleman family made up nine victims, including three other children: Maxwell Coleman, 2; Reece Coleman, 9; and Evan Coleman, 7, in a list provided by authorities to local media.
Only two members of the Coleman family survived, Tia Coleman and her 13-year-old nephew, according to KOLR.
Tragically, the family was never meant to be on the doomed vessel with Tia telling the outlet they missed their boat after going to the wrong duck boat business. When they made it to Ride the Ducks, the group was allowed to switch their tickets for the 6:30 ride.
Tia recounted the terrifying experience of trying to escape the sinking boat, 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,” she said. “And I was yelling, screaming 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.”
Tia’s other family members included sister-in-law Angela Coleman, 45, Belinda Coleman, 69, Ervin Coleman, 76, Glenn Coleman, 40, and Horace Coleman, 70.
She lost her husband and their three children, aged 9, 7 and 1, in the incident as well as her parents-in-law. Angela was there with her 13-year-old son, who survived, and 2-year-old son, Maxwell.
“The last thing I heard my sister-in-law say was ‘grab the baby,’” Tia recalled before the boat began sinking. “My head pushed up to the top of the water and I lost control, I didn’t have anybody with me.”
“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 sinking,” she said.
Among the others who died were Janice Bright, 63, and William Bright, 65, who were from Higginsville, Missouri, and celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary.
William’s sister, Karen Abbott, told The Kansas City Star she only found out about the duck boat capsizing when she overheard her boss talking about it.
“Needless to say, I fell apart because I couldn’t reach them on cell phones,” Abbott said. The Brights have three daughters, 16 grandchildren and were expecting their 17th grandchild.
Abbott told the newspaper her brother was her “best friend in the whole world.”
“It was just he and I,” she said. “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.”
William Asher, 69, of St. Louis, Missouri, and his girlfriend Rosemarie Hamann, 68, were inseparable before death.
A neighbor of the couple told KMOV the two loved to dance, travel and “listen to the oldies” together.
“It’s devastating, Will was such an integral part of the community here,” former neighbor Jim Roepke, told the station. “He knew everybody there wasn’t a person that drove by that he didn’t wave to, talked to. He was just wonderful. He was always happy, always has a smile, always willing to help out. That’s by far the fondest memory and will always stick with me.”
Father and son, Steve Smith, 53, and Lance Smith, 15, of Osceola, Arkansas, also passed away in the tragedy.
A family friend of theirs, Will Hester, shared a heart-wrenching tribute to them on Facebook asking for prayers.
“Please pray for the Smith Family of Osceola church of Christ. Last night Steve (father and husband) and Lance (the son) died in the tragic duck accident in Branson, Missouri,” Hester wrote.
“Steve was a deacon at Osceola and I had just baptized Lance, who was 15, late last year. This past Sunday I finally was able to get Lance to do a devotional and break out his shell!” Hester continued. “Attached is one of the last photos of him I know exists. He was like a son to me and I will miss him greatly.”
“He was the perfect example of humility and compassion! He cared about everyone. My heart breaks, but I know where they are and I know that I will see them again,” he added. “Again, we ask for prayers of comfort for everyone! I cannot express how much I am thankful for all who contacted us and told us they were praying! Thank you for your support!!!”
RELATED VIDEO: 17 Dead After Duck Boat Sinks in Missouri
Leslie Dennison, 65, was also pronounced dead. Her son Todd Dennison told The Kansas City Star that his mother saved his 12-year-old daughter Alicia when the boat sank.
“She said her grandmother saved her,” Todd told the newspaper of how his daughter felt Leslie pushing her upward from below the water.
The driver of the duck boat, Robert “Bob” Williams also died, with his widow, Judy, telling CNN he was a friendly man.
“He’d talk to anybody. He made an effect on many lives. He would give up his life for somebody,” she said. “That’s the kind of man Robert was, is.”
His grandson, Victor Richardson, told the outlet Williams was “a God-fearing man; he was very humble. He was the calmest spirit you could ever meet.”
Authorities said they believe the boat turned over and sunk due to the stormy weather at about 8 p.m. ET with the thunderstorm winds as high as 60 mph, according to NBC News. The duck boat remains at the bottom of the lake.
In a statement, the boating company said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident that occurred at Ride The Ducks Branson. This incident has deeply affected all of us. Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking. We will continue to do all we can to assist the families who were involved.”
Sat Jul 21 00:22:27 EDT 2018
George H. W. Bush‘s heart doctor was killed Friday morning in a drive-by bicycle shooting.
Dr. Mark Hausknecht was killed by another bicyclist who was going in the opposite direction before 9 a.m., according to a press release by the Houston Police Department.
The cardiologist, 65, was pronounced dead at Ben Taub General Hospital.
Bush, 94, released a statement through spokesman Jim McGrath upon hearing of Hausknecht’s death, saying he was “deeply saddened” by his death.
The former president “sends his most sincere condolences to the Hausknecht family, his colleagues at Houston Methodist, and his friends.”
“Mark was a fantastic cardiologist and a good man,” Bush said. “I will always be grateful for his exceptional, compassionate care. His family is in our prayers.”
The suspect — who has not been identified — biked past the doctor, then turned around and fired two gunshots at him near Texas Medical Center in Houston, according to Executive Assistant Police Chief Troy Finner during a press conference.
“We are actively looking for a suspect,” Finner said. “A good thing about the medical center is that there are a lot of cameras. We’re hoping that we can get some footage of this and bring this violent criminal into custody.”
“In any big city, crime can happen at any time. The most important thing is we have to watch out for one another. If you see something, say something,” Finner added.
He told reporters it was not clear if the shooting was targeted or random.
Finner said he believed the suspect was a white or Hispanic male in his 30s wearing a tan baseball cap, gray warmup jacket, khaki shorts with a light-colored mountain bike, the outlet reported.
Hausknecht was able to flag down a passing ambulance, according to CBS News.
An EMT who rendered medical assistance to the doctor told ABC 13 he knew something was “wrong.”
“We stopped, rendered aid to the best of our ability,” the EMT said, who asked to remain unidentified. “We’re limited when we have a patient loaded, we can’t act as a normal ambulance at that point in time. We pretty much just give first aid.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (713) 222-TIPS.
Sat Jul 21 00:06:03 EDT 2018
When news broke that 17 people, including children, died after a duck boat capsized in Branson, Missouri, it tragically did not come as a shock to lawyer Jeffrey Goodman.
“When I saw the headline, it was just more of the same,” Goodman, a partner at the Philadelphia-based law firm, Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky, tells PEOPLE. “This was predicted by the NTSB . They said it would happen again, and it did.”
The firm has long called for a ban on the popular amphibious vehicles — that can both drive on city streets and coast through water — as they have represented three people who died in two different duck boat-related accidents involving the company, Ride the Ducks, which also owns the vessel used in Thursday night’s tragedy.
Goodman represented the families of Dora Schwendter and Szabolcs Prem, two Hungarian students who drowned when their stalled duck boat, filled with 33 other passengers, was plowed into by a barge in the Delaware River. The suit was settled with the families and the two companies for $17 million before it moved on to a federal court jury.
Then, in May 2015, the firm represented the family of 68-year-old Elizabeth Karnicki, who was killed when she was run down by duck boat while crossing a street in Philadelphia with her husband. The firm filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Ride the Ducks, stating the hazardous design of the vehicle was to blame for the fatal accident. The case was later settled.
In another incident involving the company that same year, five people were killed and dozens injured in Seattle when their Ride the Ducks boat crashed into a charter bus, caused by an axle failure on the World War II-era vehicle, according to the Seattle Times. Goodman did not represent the victims in that crash.
The accidents all occurred prior to the Ride the Ducks company being purchased by the Ripley’s Entertainment Inc — which owns Ripley’s Believe or Not! Odditorium and other attractions. Ripley’s took over the company in December.
“Duck boats should outright be banned, whether on land or on water, they are unsafe in either situation,” Goodman tells PEOPLE. “On land, they are too wide for modern roadways, they don’t have the maneuverability of vehicles, and they have massive blind spots because it has a bow, since it’s a boat. The operator sits so far behind that the blind spots are huge.”
While these problems with maneuverability remain even when the vessel is in water, one of the most dangerous aspects of a duck boat, Goodman says, is its trademark canopy.
“On water, there is a variety of problems,” he explains. “It doesn’t have the maneuverability of a normal vessel, it sits lower in the water, which makes it more prone to sinking, and it has these canopies over top.”
As it restricts the avenues of escape for passengers, a seemingly innocuous canopy can turn into a deadly snare when a duck boat capsizes.
“When you have this canopy overhead, if the boat sinks, and you are wearing your life jacket, you get trapped,” Goodman says. “As the boat goes down, the canopy goes with it, and where, normally, the life jacket would bring you to the top, when that happens, you’re met by the canopy at surface, and you become trapped and it drags you down.”
He adds: “Duck boats are death traps, and with the canopies, they are sinking coffins.”
The dangers of duck boats have been apparent long before the accidents in Philadelphia and Branson. In 1999, “Miss Majestic,” a duck boat built by the U.S. Army in 1944, sank just seven minutes into its trip into Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Thirteen of the boat’s 21 passengers died, including three children.
Three years later, the NTSB released a report concerning the incident that warned about duck boat canopies and recommended for their removal. Twenty years later, a similar canopy seems to have been used on the duck boat that capsized in Branson.
In a statement on social media, Ride the Ducks said they will “assist the families who were involved” in Thursday night’s tragedy, and they will cease operations while an investigation continues.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident that occurred at Ride The Ducks Branson. This incident has deeply affected all of us. Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking,” the statement reads. We will continue to do all we can to assist the families who were involved. The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority. Ride the Ducks will be closed for business while we support the investigation, and to allow time to grieve for the families and the community.”
Following the latest tragedy, Goodman hopes cities will reconsider allowing duck boats to operate in their waters and streets.
“The duck boat industry responds to accidents like this by arguing the boats are good for tourism in your cities,” he says. “That’s their sales pitch. But, you don’t promote tourism by killing your tourists.”