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Duck Boat Survivor Who Lost 9 Family Members Recounts Her Harrowing Story of Survival

Tia Coleman lost nine family members, including three of her children, after a duck boat went down in Branson, Missouri on Thursday during a summer storm.  Of the 31 aboard the amphibious vessel, 17 died.

On Saturday, she recounted to the press her harrowing story of how she survived.

Here is her story in her words:

I’ve always loved water. I don’t know if it’s a Pisces or what. I always loved water. But when that water came over the boat, I didn’t know what happened. I had my son right next to me. But when the water filled up the boat, I could no longer see. I couldn’t feel anybody. I couldn’t see. I just remember I got to get out, I got to get out. And I don’t know if somebody pushed me or what happened. But I hit my head on the part of the boat. And when I got out into the water it was ice cold. And I remember as we were going into the water they said that the lake stays pretty warm like in the 80s. So I knew from it being so cold that I’m close to the bottom, I’m not close not the top. And I remember kicking and swimming and swimming up to the top and I was swimming up I was praying. I said, ‘Lord please let me get to my babies. I got to get to my babies.’

And I was kicking and the harder I fought to get to the top, I was getting pulled down. And I kept fighting and I kept fighting. Then, I said ‘Lord, if I can’t make it there is no use in keeping me here.’ And so I just let go. And I started floating. And as I started floating, I felt the water temperature change. And it got warmer. As it got warmer I knew I was to the stop. So, I stuck my hands out and I kept swallowing tons of water.

The waves were crashing over my face. And every time I get my head a little bit of above water I screamed ‘Help, Help,’ Finally, I came up to the surface and I saw a great big boat out there, like a riverboat. And they were oh, my God, they were jumping in saving people. They were throwing life rafts out to everybody. But I couldn’t reach it, I couldn’t get there in time. So, somehow I managed to get to the boat. And these beautiful people, angels, I don’t know who they were. They pulled me up. And when they pulled me up from the boat, I didn’t see any of my family. But I believe I survived by God and by good samaritans.

Watch above, via CNN

[image via screengrab]

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