More than $600,000 has been raised for Tia Coleman, a survivor of a Missouri duck boat accident that left nine people from her family dead. Of the 29 passengers and two crew members on board during the disaster a total of 17 people died.
Coleman was one of only two survivors of the accident in her family, which killed her husband Glenn, their three children, and other family members.
The money has been raised through GoFundMe, a popular online fundraising platform.
Thirty-one people were on board the vessel, which was on Table Rock Lake on Thursday. Coleman and her 13-year-old nephew were among the survivors, but along with Coleman’s immediate family, her nephew’s mother and brother also died, as well as several older members of the family.
Coleman told Fox that the captain of the duck boat had told the passengers that they wouldn’t need life jackets, despite a visible storm headed their way.
“Don’t worry about grabbing the life jackets, you won’t need them,” she said, recounting his words.
“I felt like, if I was able to get a life jacket, I could have saved my babies because they could have at least floated up to the top and somebody could have grabbed them,” Coleman added during a press conference on Saturday at Cox Medical Center in Branson, according to the New York Post.
She said her son was next to her as the water filled up the boat but she couldn’t see as the boat sank.
She was about to give up after hitting her head on something but soon found herself on the surface.
“I don’t know how I got out. I couldn’t see anything,” she said. “I thought, ‘There’s no use in keeping me here.’ And I started floating, and as I started floating I felt the temperature change. I believe I survived by God.”
People on a vessel nearby were throwing out life rafts and jumping into the water to help the passengers.
“Somehow, I managed to get to the boat,” Coleman said. “They were beautiful people, angels, I don’t know who they were. They pulled me up into the boat … I didn’t see any of my family.”
Coleman said she’s struggling to cope with the loss of her family, reported People magazine.
“Going home, I already know is gonna be completely, completely difficult. I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” she said. “Since I’ve had a home, it’s always been filled with little feet and laughter. And my husband. I don’t know how I’m gonna do it.”