A metro Atlanta man told WSBTV that he is "just lost" after losing nine of his relatives in a duck boat accident on Missouri's Table Rock Lake on Thursday.
"I don't know. I can't place it. I can't imagine it," Gary Coleman told WSBTV. "We've had a death in the family — one or two. Not a whole family at one time."
Gary Coleman and his wife, Carolyn Coleman, who live in Riverdale, said it doesn't seem real.
There were 11 Colemans on the duck boat and only two survived, Gary Coleman said. He said they were on an annual family trip. WSBTV learned the family wasn't supposed to be on that specific duck boat, but a ticket mix-up is why they were on board.
Early Thursday, he released a photo of eight of the relatives who died in the accident. Gary Coleman said everyone in the photo except for the woman on the far left, Tia, and the teenage boy on the far right, Donovan, died in the accident, according to WSBTV.
“I’ve just been looking at this picture all day,” he told the news station.
The family is from Indianapolis. Gary said the deceased include two of his brothers, Butch and Ray, his niece Angela, his nephew Glen and his grandnephews Maxwell and Reese. Butch’s wife, Belinda, also died, as did two young children, who Gary Coleman didn’t name.
Tia and Donovan Coleman were the two survivors.
The accident killed 17 people and injured 14 when the boat capsized after a strong line of thunderstorms moved through the area about 7 p.m. Thursday.
Officials said the victims range in age from 1 to 70 years old.
Gary and Carolyn Coleman question why the boat went out at all.
“My biggest question is why did that boat go out? They had thunderstorm warning all day coming through Kansas and Missouri,” Gary Coleman said.
Though the loss of nine family members is devastating, they’re trying to find solace through their faith.
“We’re just going to trust and keep faith in God that he can soothe our spirits because this isn’t easy,” Carolyn Coleman said.