Duck boat survivor who lost 9 members of her family says she cried out to Jesus as the vessel was sinking

(Reuters)

A survivor of the duck boat tragedy in Missouri last Thursday has tearfully recalled the moment she cried out to Jesus as the vessel sank.

Tia Coleman lost nine members of her family in the accident at Table Rock Lake in Branson on Thursday evening, including her husband and three children.

Speaking to KOLR from her hospital bed, she described the confusion of the final moments before the boat sank to the bottom.

'I couldn't see anybody, I couldn't hear anything - I couldn't hear screams - it felt like I was out there on my own,' she said.

'I was yelling, I was screaming and finally I said: "Lord, just let me die, let me die - I can't keep drowning, I just can't...

'Then I just let go, and I started floating, and I was floating to the top and I felt the water temperature raise to warm, and I jumped up and saw the big boat that sits out there. 'When I saw [the first responders helping survivors on the pier], they were throwing out life jackets to people. And I said: 'Jesus keep me, just keep me so I can get to my children'.

Tragically, out of the 11 family members who boarded the boat, only Tia and her nephew survived.

Church deacon Steve Smith, 53, and his 15-year-old son Lance were also among the victims, according to the Daily Mail. They were accompanied by his daughter Loren at the time, who survived. Smith's wife had reportedly chosen to go shopping instead of join them on the boat ride.

In the aftermath of the accident, prayer vigils have been held in the parking lot of the duck boat company, where floral tributes have been left on the bonnets of cars still parked there that are believed to belong to the victims.

The Rev. Zachary Klein, speaking at one of the vigils, said 'there simply are no words to comfort them [the families],' reports WSBT22 News.