The U.S. state of Missouri is in mourning this weekend. Seventeen died – including five children – as a tourist boat capsized. Authorities said the investigation into the incident could take up to a year. CGTN’s Dan Williams was at one of the vigils held for the victims.
An outpouring of emotion following events on Thursday that saw an amphibious vehicle known as a duck boat, sink, claiming the lives of seventeen people.
Some left candles, others left flowers on cars believed to belong to some of the victims.
Russell McKay, a close friend of two of the victims – William Asher and Rosemarie Hamann – drove down from St Louis to pay his respects.
“It’s all surreal. I am going to wake up and everything is going to be okay,” said McKay. “And obviously it is a reality and I was heartbroken all the way down here and I could not comprehend it. But after tonight and I see this whole community coming together and pouring out this love for these two people, these two poor souls, it’s healing.”
Questions as to why the boat entered the water still remain, as a severe thunderstorm warning had been issued some thirty minutes before the incident took place.
Nine people from a family of eleven died in the tragedy. Tia Coleman survived but she said her three children and husband were killed.
“I lost control. I didn’t have anybody with me, I couldn’t see anybody and I know it wasn’t but it felt like I struggled for at least an hour.”
The National Transportation Safety board said the investigation could take up to a year to complete. They are urging witnesses to share any videos or photos that may help provide further clues to how this popular excursion turned into a tragedy that claimed seventeen lives.
The company that operates the Duck Boats in Branson has closed the business due to the investigation – and to allow the community and families to grieve. The boats date back to World War II and have been involved in other deadly incidents in other areas in recent years.
As investigators continue their work, for many, the process of mourning has just begun.