Hundreds of mourners filled an Indianapolis church this morning for funeral services for four of the nine Indiana family members killed when a tourist duck boat sank on a Missouri lake.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, first lady Janet Holcomb and US Rep. Andre Carson are among the dignitaries attending the memorial at Grace Apostolic Church for the husband and three children of Tia Coleman.
Bishop G. Victor Morrisey Jr. of God’s Love Christian Church, which the family attended, told the mourners at the funeral of 40-year-old Glenn Coleman, nine-year-old Reece, seven-year-old Evan and one-year-old Arya: ‘I believe Glenn could have saved himself, I believe he could have got away by himself.
‘He wanted to make sure his family was going to be alright. He wasn’t going to leave his children to fend for themselves.
‘He was able to corral all of his family together, his two sons and his baby.’
Tia has previously said that when her husband was found in the water, ‘he had all three of my babies’.
‘This community stretched far beyond the boundaries of the city of Indianapolis and even the boundaries of the state of Missouri,’ he said, adding that ‘the love and support that has been show in so many different ways to this family’ has come from across the globe.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said Tia, who works in the child support division of the prosecutor’s office, is ‘a gentle, wonderful young woman’ who’s part of the department’s extended family. He said she’s now struggling with an immense loss that raises ‘the age-old question of why bad things happen to good persons’ but that he sees ‘a glimmer of hope.’
‘It’s difficult to talk about, that there’s something positive, a glimmer of hope that comes out of this unimaginable tragedy that has befallen Tia and her in-laws. It reminds me that we are ultimately a good people despite the divisive, caustic rhetoric that we hear from some. We’re still in touch with our good nature,’ he said.
Master of ceremony Nicole Young Starks read statements prepared by the Coleman family about the victims. She described Glenn as man who cared for and provided for his family and believed that he and Tia, who wed in 2007, ‘were the most beautiful couple in the world.’
Reece had autism, was extremely smart and loved to sing, and would often search the internet for sing-alongs to purchase and take part in, Starks said. She said Evan ‘had a heart of gold but was very competitive’ but good-spirited in that competitiveness.
Starks said Tia was trying to raise Arya – ‘the first girl in a family with many boys’ – as a princess, but that she discovered that the toddler was as tough as her brothers.
‘So we had to accept that she was a rough princess,’ she said reading from the family’s statements, which said ‘each of the Coleman children had their own unique personality.’
Suffragan Bishop Kevin Harrison of Grace Apostolic Church said that despite that, there has been an outpouring support and messages of consolation for the family. He said it shows that ‘we still are a community of love.’
The funeral comes eight days after a duck boat capsized and sank during a storm in Branson, killing 17 people.
Tia and a 13-year-old nephew were the only survivors among 11 Coleman family members who boarded the boat on July 19.
A funeral will be held on Saturday for 70-year-old Horace Coleman and his 69-year-old wife, Belinda, 76-year-old Ervin Coleman, 45-year-old Angela Coleman and her two-year-old son, Maxwell.
Others killed included a Missouri couple who had just celebrated a birthday; another Missouri couple on what was planned as their last extended vacation; an Illinois woman who died while saving her granddaughter’s life; an Arkansas father and son; and a retired pastor who was the boat’s operator.
None of the 31 passengers on board was wearing a life jacket, according to an incident report released Saturday by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
State and federal investigators were trying to determine what sent the vessel, originally built for military use in World War II, to its demise. An initial assessment blamed thunderstorms and winds that approached hurricane strength, but it wasn’t clear why the amphibious vehicle even ventured into the water.
When the sunken vessel was hauled from the bottom of the lake on Monday, several life jackets were seen crammed under the boat’s canopy.
Speaking to reporters over the weekend, an emotional Tia Coleman described how a huge wave hit the boat, sending passengers flying into Table Rock Lake near Branson.
The last thing she heard before the boat capsized was her sister-in-law, Angela, yelling , ‘Grab the baby.’
‘I said, “Lord, please, let me get to my babies,”’ she said. ‘”If they don’t make it, Lord, take me too. I don’t need to be here.”’
The victims: Death toll from the Missouri duck boat tragedy included seven members of the same family
Seventeen people were killed on Thursday night when a Ride the Ducks duck boat capsized during a severe storm over the Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri.
Among them were a hero grandmother, a ‘community legend’ football coach and a recently baptized 15-year-old boy.
Nine members of one family were also killed, with another two managing to survive the horrific ordeal.
THE COLEMAN FAMILY
Nine of the 11 members of the Coleman family who boarded the boat on Thursday were killed, including four children under the age of 10.
Horace ‘Butch’ Coleman, 70, the family patriarch, was remembered on social media as a ‘community legend’, who spent more than 40 years volunteering in his local area.
His wife, Belinda Coleman, 69, and his brother, Irving Raymond Coleman, 76, were also killed, as were Belinda’s cousins, Angela Coleman, 45, and Glenn Coleman, 40.
Angela’s two-year-old son Maxwell died in the tragic accident, as did Glenn’s sons Evan, 7, and Reece, 9, and his one-year-old daughter Arya.
STEVE AND LANCE SMITH
Christian church deacon Steve Smith, 53, and his 15-year-old son Lance also drowned when the boat capsized on Thursday.
Smith’s daughter, Loren, survived, and his wife Pamela was not on the boat.
A family friend wrote on Twitter Pamela had decided to go shopping instead of joining her family on board the doomed boat.
BILL ASHER AND ROSE HAMMAN
Bill Asher, 69, and his girlfriend Rose Hamman, 68, were also identified as among the dead by friends on Facebook on Friday afternoon.
Bill and Rose had been on a week-long holiday in Branson, and had spent their last evening away on the duck boat, friend Mary Ogborn Kientzy said.
Grandmother Leslie Dennison, 64, was on the boat with her 12-year-old granddaughter Alicia.
Her son Todd said on Thursday his daughter, who is recovering in hospital, said she could feel Leslie pushing her up as the boat filled with water.
‘She said her grandmother saved her,’ he told the paper. Leslie is being mourned as a ‘true hero’.
ROBERT ‘BOB’ WILLIAMS
Robert ‘Bob’ Williams, 73, was driving the boat when it went down in Table Rock Lake.
Williams worked for Ride the Ducks, the boat tour company which owned the vessel, but had previously worked as a pastor.
Friends and family paid tribute to him on Friday as a God-fearing family man.
WILLIAM AND JANICE BRIGHT
William and Janice Bright, aged 65 and 63, had been in Branson celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary on Thursday.
The couple have three daughters and 16 grandchildren – their 17th was on the way.
SOURCE: The Associated Press; Daily Mail