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Here's Who Died on the Duck Boat

The Kansas City Star looks more closely at the victims
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2018 10:58 AM CDT
The Duck-Boat Victims, Remembered
Mallory Cunningham, left, Santino Tomasetti, center, and Aubrey Reece attend a candlelight vigil in the parking lot of Ride the Ducks Friday, July 20, 2018, in Branson, Mo. One of the company's duck boats capsized Thursday night resulting in over a dozen deaths on Table Rock Lake.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(Newser) – After 17 died in a tragic duck-boat accident this week, a local vigil and a newspaper are honoring the dead. "This has been my community for 10 years, so just hearing about it last night I felt completely helpless at home, not feeling like there's anything I could do, so just coming out tonight was sort of my emotional way of showing support," Alyssa Ambrosier of Branson, Missouri, tells ABC News at a Friday vigil that drew hundreds. A local man put it this way: "We did this because we want the families to know that we care. This is Branson. This is who we are. You come here, you're family." Meanwhile, the Kansas City Star looks at the people who were lost:

  • Eleven members of the Coleman family from Indiana were on board, but only two survived. "My heart is very heavy," paralegal Tia Coleman, who survived with her nephew, tells FOX59. "Out of 11 of us, only two of us surviving—that’s me and my nephew. I lost all my children, my brother-in-law." Among the dead is Horace "Butch" Coleman, 70, who helped with a youth football organization for more than four decades. "This feels like a nightmare," per the league's Facebook page. "RIP to a community legend but most importantly a man to his family."

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  • Karen Abbott drove into the Ride the Ducks parking lot Friday crying with anger and grief after her brother and sister-in-law died in the accident. "I think this company should have their ass sued off of them and every penny they made should be returned to every victim that’s ever lost their lives in this," says Abbott. William Bright, 65, and his 63-year-old wife Janice were celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary when the accident happened. "Most people say they don’t like their sister-in-laws," says Abbott. "I've loved Janice for 47 years. She was my friend before she was my sister."
  • Illinois resident Todd Dennison was holding back tears Friday at Branson City Hall. His mother, 64-year-old Leslie Dennison, apparently saved his 12-year-old daughter Alicia by pushing her up after they submerged. Todd added on Facebook, "The thing [is] she truly cared about Alicia she helped to safety and I look at her as a hero!!"
  • Co-workers and friends are praising church pastor Robert Williams, 73, who was behind the wheel when the boat sank. "Pastor Bob was a prince of a man, loving, kind, and generous, whose loss to our family is incalculable," says son-in-law Jeffery Williams, who adds that Robert was "undoubtedly trying to save others" when he went down.
  • Friends say Rose Heupel Hamann, 68, and Bill Asher, 69, were the "life of the party." Asher was known to DJ at Cleveland events and both of them supported local musicians. "Rosie always had a big smile and kind words for everyone," says a friend, in part. "They were what you would call the life of the party in a very good way."
  • Steve Smith, 53—a church of Christ deacon in Arkansas—and his 15-year-old son Lance Smith both died, while Lance's sister survived. "The mother was shopping," tweets @bj141cox, who knew the family. "I'm literally sick to my stomach. These 'duck boats' must be outlawed." Per the Christian Chronicle, a prayer request on social media describes Lance as "the perfect example of humility and compassion. He cared about everyone. My heart breaks, but I know where they are, and I know I will see them again."
Some say the boat shouldn't have launched amid a severe weather warning. (Read more duck boat stories.)

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