The 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank on Lake Taneycomo outside Branson were remembered Sunday during a memorial service attended by around 200 people in the tourism community of Branson.
A church bell at Williams Chapel at College of the Ozarks chimed 17 times for those who died Thursday on the lake.
“Today we honor the 17 lives that were lost,” said Branson Mayor Karen Best. “We honor the 14 survivors. And we honor the many heroes who did everything in their power to save lives.”
The memorial service was held at the college near the site of the accident, which happened as winds approached hurricane strength. The city and college hosted the remembrance for the victims.
The memorial and other vigils were quickly organized over the weekend, including the one at College of the Ozarks on Sunday. Davis said the college was asked to host it and was more than glad to do so.
“Any tragedy of this magnitude is going to touch the College of the Ozarks one way or another, and we want to help in any way we can,” College of the Ozarks President Jerry Davis said. “I think it’s a great reflection on this area of the Ozarks to see this many people show up in the middle of the afternoon, and it’s a message to the families who are grieving that we really do care.”
As the community begins to move forward, Davis said the college will play whatever role it needs to in the healing process.
“We’re very integrated with the community,” Davis said. “So if somebody can think of a way that we could be helpful, we plan to do it.”
In a sermon delivered during the memorial, chapel dean Justin Carswell told of the shock and disbelief that Jesus’ followers felt after his crucifixion. Carswell drew a parallel to that event some 2,000 years ago to the one just 3 days ago.
“We may today feel exactly like the friends of Jesus felt: Not knowing what to say, watching from a distance,” Carswell said. “Yet we don’t encounter this without faith.”
It is that faith, Carswell said, that the community will need in order to remain hopeful in a time of despair.
“Let us move forward through our sorrow and grief by faith,” Carswell said. “Let us, by his grace, stand by faith and rejoice in hope.”
Nine of the people who died were part of one Indiana family. Online fundraisers had raised more than $400,000 for their funeral expenses by Sunday afternoon.
Two GoFundMe campaigns are underway for the Coleman family, who lost three generations in the duck boat accident.
GoFundMe spokeswoman Katherine Cichy says it’s verified one campaign that’s raising money. Ingrid Coleman Douglas tells The Indianapolis Star a second campaign is also legitimate.
Others killed were from Missouri, Arkansas, and Illinois.