Officials release Branson boat tragedy victims' names

Mourning in Branson
Sheriff Doug Rader said the boat was found about 80 feet under water at Table Rock Lake. (Source: KFVS)
Sheriff Doug Rader said the boat was found about 80 feet under water at Table Rock Lake. (Source: KFVS)

BRANSON, MO (KFVS/AP) - Authorities have released the names of the 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank on a Branson, Missouri, lake.

The four missing bodies were found on Friday morning, July 20, bringing the total death toll to 17 after a duck boat capsized on Table Rock Lake.

Of the seventeen killed, 9 were from one family and 2 members of that family survived, according to the governor's office.

According to the Stone County Sheriff's Office, five of the dead were from Missouri, two were from Arkansas and one was from Illinois.

The sheriff's department identified the Indiana family members as 45-year-old Angela Coleman, 1-year-old Arya Coleman, 69-year-old Belinda Coleman, 76-year-old Ervin Coleman, 7-year-old Evan Coleman, 40-year-old Glenn Coleman, 70-year-old Horace Coleman, 2-year-old Maxwell Coleman, and 9-year-old Reece Coleman.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help raise funds for the Coleman family.

The people from Missouri were identified as 69-year-old William Asher, 68-year-old Rosemarie Hamann, 63-year-old Janice Bright, 65-year-old William Bright, and 73-year-old Bob Williams.

Also killed were 64-year-old Leslie Dennison of Illinois and 15-year-old Lance Smith and 53-year-old Steve Smith from Arkansas.

The Stone County Sheriff's Office posted the update on its Facebook page:

"Update 10:30 a.m. the four missing bodies from the Duck accident have been recovered. This brings a total of 17 fatalities. 
Prayers to the families involved and all of the 1st responders involved. - Sheriff Doug Rader"

The tourist boat that capsized on Table Rock Lake after a thunderstorm on Thursday evening.

Authorities say the boat has been found and will be recovered later on Friday, July 20.

According to our CBS affiliate, KMOV, William Asher, 69, of South St. Louis County, and his girlfriend Rose Hamann were on the boat and did not survive.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson and emergency response officials gave a briefing on the recovery efforts at Table Rock Lake.

"What happened here last night was a heart-breaking tragedy, and we must all work together to support the victims and their families," Gov. Parson said. "The courageous efforts of emergency responders and civilian rescuers helped avert an even worse tragedy, as people rushed to help in extremely dangerous conditions. I was inspired by the stories I heard from some of those who were part of the rescue effort and tremendously encouraged by the strength of the family members of victims I met with today. We pray for all those who were affected by this terrible tragedy."

Parson traveled to Branson to meet with survivors and some of the medical personnel who helped treat some of those injured Thursday night.  The governor also met with some of the civilians and emergency responders who helped with rescues Thursday and with the loved ones of some of the victims.

Governor Parson ordered all flags at state and government offices to be flown at half-staff, until sunset on Friday, July 27, to honor the victims of the boating accident.

Gov. Parson, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader and other emergency response officials spoke just after 9 a.m. on Friday in the parking lot of the Branson Belle.

Branson City Hall was opened for anyone who is missing family members. Family members can also call 417-337-8515 for more information.

During the news briefing, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said they had 13 confirmed deaths. He said they first received the call at 7:09 p.m. about a boat going under water.

According to the sheriff, the Missouri State Highway Patrol dive team recovered two bodies on Thursday night.

Of those on the boat, two of them were the captain and the driver. The sheriff said the captain did survive. He did not want to comment on the age range of the people on board.

According to Sheriff Rader, there was a Stone County deputy on the Branson Belle doing off-duty security. He said the deputy was involved in the rescue, along with employees of the Branson Belle that jumped in and helped with the rescue. He said there were also passengers who were getting on the Branson Belle that helped rescue people.

He said the dive team was back in the water on Friday morning trying to recover the four that remain missing.

"It's been a long night, a very trying night," Sheriff Rader said. "Please keep all of our families that are involved and all of our first responders and personnel in your thoughts and prayers."

Gov. Mike Parson thanked all of the first responders and the City of Branson for their efforts "to bring some sort of conclusion" to the tragedy.

"We as a state will do everything in my powers to make sure that they all have the resources here they need to come to a conclusion on this incident and to finish with the investigation of this tragedy; that we know what the outcome was and what those results will be but right now our main focus, all of us, should be across this country should be our thoughts and prayers should be with the members that have been involved, the family members that are out there, the family members that are in the hospital and for the families to get here safely to be reunited with some of their members that are here."

The sheriff went on to say he wanted to dispell any rumors that the Herschend Family Properties owned the Duck rides.

He said, from what he understood, there were life jackets on the boat but he couldn't comment on whether anyone on board was wearing them.

According to the sheriff, the Coast Guard was on scene, along with the National Transportation Safety Board, to investigate.

Sheriff Rader asked that anyone with video of the incident to send it the Stone County Sheriff's Office Facebook page to be used in the investigation.

He said it was hard to tell on the videos they've seen so far, whether the windows on the duck boat were open or closed.

The dive team did find the boat and the sheriff said it would be recovered later on Friday. He said it landed, on its wheels, in about 40 feet of water and rolled to and stopped at about 80 feet under water.

The Associated Press reported that on Thursday evening, a duck boat carrying tourists capsized and sank on Table Rock Lake during a thunderstorm. At least 13 people, including children, died.

Meteorologists say wind gusts of 50-65 miles per hour were recorded around the time the boat capsized after a severe thunderstorm warning was issued. The weather was calm in the search area overnight and they avoided more storms on Friday morning.

Senator Roy Blunt spoke on the tragedy at Table Rock Lake:

"I am deeply saddened by the tragedy at Table Rock Lake. My prayers are with the families and friends who lost their loved ones. I thank the first responders and members of the community who have assisted in the response and recovery effort. I will continue to be in contact with state and local officials, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Coast Guard as the investigation moves forward."
"This is a tragedy that never should have happened. I am closely monitoring the investigation to determine how the Coast Guard and the operator responded to previous NTSB recommendations. Based on the findings of the investigation and any new recommendations, I stand ready to pursue whatever action is necessary to keep this from happening again."

Senator Claire McCaskill issued the following statement on Friday:

"Our hearts are heavy for those families involved in the tragedy that struck in Branson last night. Sincere thanks to the first responders and those on the scene helping in the search and rescue."
It's encouraging to see the professionalism and cooperation between state and local officials and the two federal agencies investigating this tragedy. I'm grateful to Mayor Best, the Red Cross, and the brave men and women of the Missouri Highway Patrol—particularly the divers who had the worst job of all today. My deepest condolences continue to go out to those families torn apart by this tragedy."

President Donald Trump tweeted his sympathies on Friday morning.

The National Weather Service warned of a fresh round of thunderstorms, as divers continued to search for four missing people.

Copyright 2018 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this story.