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Last photo shows happy family before boat horror left 9 dead

TRAGIC: Coleman family (Photo credit: family handout via WRTV)

THE PHOTO above is the last the Colemans' took together as a family.

All 11 members of the Coleman family are shown smiling and posing with a life preserver just before they boarded a duck boat in Branson, Missouri. A voyage that led to the death of nine family members leaving only two of them alive.

Shortly after taking the photo on Thursday afternoon, the family embarked on a Ride the Ducks tour of Table Rock Lake near Branson, a scheduled 70-minute ride that turned into a nightmare when a fierce storm struck and the boat they were on was capsized by waves that crested at 6 feet, officials said.

The Coleman's along two crew members were among the 31 people on the boat, which resulted in the death of 17 people.

In an emotional press conference Saturday, surviour Tia Coleman, who lost her husband and three children said when she and her family boarded the boat, the captain pointed out life jackets but said they wouldn't be needed.

"The captain did say something about life jackets. He said, 'Above you are your life jackets. There are three sizes. He said, 'I'm gonna show you where they are, but you won't need them. So, no need to worry.' So we didn't grab them."

In another interview, Tia recalled the horrific moments as the boat begun to sink. She said: "When that water came over the boat I didn’t know what happened. I had my son next to me. But when the water filled up the boat ... I couldn’t feel anybody, I couldn’t see. I just remember, 'I've got to get out, I've got to get out’."

She added her sister-in-law had shouted to "grab the baby" as the boat began to submerge but that it hit her head as she tried to find an escape in the darkness.

"As I was swimming up I was praying, ‘Lord, please let me get to my babies, I’ve got to get to my babies’," she said.

According to ABC News, The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident in a bid to determine what doomed the boat dubbed the "Stretch Duck 7."

A memorial service for those who died on the duck boat was held Sunday (Jul 22) at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri.

The U.S. Coast Guard said on Sunday (Jul 22) that a salvage operation will commence Monday (Jul 23) morning to bring the sunken boat to the surface to be examined.

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