1 year after duck boat accident, surviving Indy family member describes life after the tragedy

Tia Coleman

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Nearly one year after losing her family in a duck-boat accident, Tia Coleman issued a statement describing her life after the tragedy.

“The crippling pain of loss continues every day,” said the Indianapolis woman.

Tia’s husband, Glenn, and their children, 1-year-old Arya, 7-year-old Evan, and 9-year-old Reece, were among the 17 people who drowned when the duck boat they were on sank in Branson, Missouri, on July 19, 2018. Five other Coleman family members were also killed in the incident.

Tia and her 13-year-old nephew, Donovan, were the only family members to survive the sinking. The family had gathered in Branson on their annual multi-generational reunion vacation.

“This is a time for reflection and remembrance of my precious, loving family and all the victims of a devastating, preventable catastrophe,” said Tia regarding the 1-year anniversary. “I draw hope and energy from their memory to fight to ban dangerous, death trap duck boats like the one that killed my family and the others.”

Tia says she’s grateful for the efforts of prosecutors as they work to hold those responsible for her family’s deaths accountable.

“And I am thankful to our Congressman André Carson for joining us in calling on Congress to stop duck-boat deaths in the water and on land,” said Tia.

In her statement, Tia also urged the Coast Guard to meet with her and other victims, so they can discuss why they want duck boats banned, so no other families will suffer the losses they have.

“I just learned from a media report that members of the Coast Guard met with the duck boat industry, their insurers and representatives of the Passenger Vessel Association, the trade group that has continually lobbied to keep dangerous death trap duck boats on our streets and in our lakes and rivers,” said Tia. “However, the Coast Guard has not met with me and the other victims of this disaster to hear what we have to say and understand what we have lost.”

Tia’s attorney, Robert J. Mongeluzzi, says the most recent federal criminal indictment issued by the grand jury claims that on the day of the disaster Ripley’s operations manager was counting cash and receipts rather than monitoring the weather and safeguarding their passengers.

“This is just one of the outrageous acts detailed in the indictment,” said Mongeluzzi. “Ripley’s latest onslaught of public relations propaganda has only magnified, not lessened, Tia Coleman’s devastating loss.”

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